Often parents feel pressure to let their children do what everyone else is doing. Whether or not one succumbs to the pressure is for each parent to think about and evaluate. However, Facebook gives parents a way to say no to opening Facebook accounts by setting a minimum age of 13. A recent survey showed that 55% of parents of 12-year-olds reported their children had Facebook accounts; 82% allowed their underage child to sign up and 76% assisted in creating the account. The survey was a collaboration between academic researchers and Microsoft Corporation and there were over 1000 respondents.
I do not agree with young children having Facebook accounts. First the child gets the message that rules can be broken or rules do not apply to them. But particularly with Facebook, I think it is important to adhere to the age limit. Even a child of 13 may not be mature enough to understand the nuances of online communication as well as the ramifications of publicly posting personal information. Furthermore elementary school age children are still learning social skills and how to develop relationships. Giving them access to online communication can hinder their ability to develop important skills that help them to negotiate interpersonal relationships. There is no substitute for good, old fashioned, face to face contact for learning to communicate with others. The children will be on Facebook soon enough. Let’s give them the time they need to learn how to really become “friends!”