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Well, we (my wife and I) decided to let our oldest daughter have a Facebook account. She’s fourteen now. Facebook “rules” state children must be at least thirteen. I have seen many parents circumvent that rule and let their children younger than thirteen have an account. I’m not sure what use it is to a six, seven, ten or even twelve year old. Personally, I think doing that teaches children to disrespect the rules, and authority. It tells children it’s okay to break the rules when it suits you. If you are one of those parents, don’t be surprised when they break YOUR rules. You have set the precedent.  

We took our time, and learned the pros and cons of social networking before allowing our oldest to participate. And of course it is still evolving. Naturally, our daughter has been wanting one since she turned thirteen, as most, if not all her friends were already on Facebook too, and Facebook says it’s okay at thirteen. But we know from personal experience it can be a time waster. And there are hidden dangers lurking on the Internet. So we wanted to be sure she understood how to use the social networking tool. With the privacy settings changing regularly, we felt additional precautions were necessary. After all, WE as parents get to decide when our children are old enough for, and have a reasonable reason for using Facebook. Thirteen is the age Facebook is comfortable with, but you don’t have to sign your child up immediately on their thirteenth birthday. We didn’t. And now we are confident enough in the service’s privacy settings and in our daughter for understanding the need to be selective and cautious.     

We’re encouraging our family members and close friends to connect with her. However we also think about how some people, even family and close friends, are not careful about what they post and not selective about who gets to read their content. I want to remind you that there are minors on Facebook, as well as the rest of the Internet. Either your friends have children they allow on Facebook or maybe you have children that you allow on Facebook. You should be selective what you post and who you allow to see your posts. Since there is no preview option (nor is it logical to have one)  for parents to prescreen their children’s newsfeed, photos, notes and other options, we are left to trust the network of friends and family we allow to connect with our children to be guardians of the community when we are not there.  

One feature that Facebook and Google Plus have is “list” (Facebook) or “circles” (G+) where you can place your friends, family or other connections. People will only see the content posted to the list or circle you placed them in, and people don’t know what list they have been placed in. Please use the list/circle feature with your friends and please put minors on a G-rated content list, meaning that what YOU post to that list is G-Rated. and I did say G-Rated because PG means Parental Guidance, and it is just not rational to expect parents to sit right next to their children during their Facebook time all the time. 

If you need help learning how to use the “list” function, I am happy to explain. You can connect with me at contact.charlieprofit.com

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