Children on Facebook

07 Jul

Disclosures: I do not have children and I am not advocating breaking the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, I understand Omar’s article is satire.

In Omar L. Gallaga’s recent article on What will happen if Generation Dora overruns Facebook he details what he finds to be the scary proposition of young children overrunning Facebook.

A simple fix to most of his worries is corrected by:

  1. Not accepting friends who are inclined to the habits listed in his post
  2. Hiding all posts from that particular user
  3. Hide specific posts from third party apps
  4. Defriend the user all together.

Also, Omar thinks 20 somethings are going to leave Facebook because of younger users.  I say us 20 somethings are not going to leave Facebook because of younger users but of older narrow minded oldies like Omar.

What he is really getting at is keeping his own children away from the site.  If his kids already have an interest in Facebook they will join the site with or without his blessings.  From an outsider’s perspective it looks like a valuable teaching experience.  Omar’s article reminds me of a recent letter by Anthony Ocini, the principal of Benjamin Franklin Middle School in New Jersey, stating “There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site.”  I wonder if he bans all communication on the playground, lunchroom, and classroom as well?

What I would teach my children about Facebook:

  • Privacy:  Assume everything going out on the Internet is public regardless of what checkbox you click to make it private.  Only accept friends that you know.
  • Be part of the community: Facebook and social networking sites are about building a network.  Teach your children to contribute to the community.  As young children maybe this is providing a link to a fun toy, website, or help for homework.
  • Be respectful: Be respectful of others opinions, be respectful by using appropriate language, and be respectful by not spamming friends with game invites or updates.

I also would advocate for the use of parental settings, a monitoring tool on the device, monitor friend lists, and put limits on amount of time the child uses Facebook.

How do you feel about children joining social networking sites?


Posted by on July 7, 2011 in Social Networking


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8 responses to “Children on Facebook

  1. Kae

    July 8, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I guess I’m a little less worried about Facebook right now because of Google+. I recieved an invitation this week and have been playing around with it bit. Circles could make a differences. With circles, creat a circle – name it and what you post only goes out to people in that circle. This feature may allow Facebook not to be overrun. It also has you making a conscious choice about who you will share items with. While Google+ is in beta for the moment – I’m assuming that it will go public soon. So then do we start looking at not letting students have Google accounts?

    • lmeinert

      July 9, 2011 at 3:17 pm

      I agree that it will be interesting when Google + launches to the general public. It has potential to be a great collaborative tool for schools already using Google Apps, but they might encounter some backlash as well.

    • mkbnl

      July 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm

      Kae, I’ve been playing around with Google+ too and I don’t see it providing any game changer that will make people want to move from Facebook to another platform. The advantages that Facebook will always have is that it is big and it got there first. If you’ve seen the movie The Social Network, and the part where they describe how they got Baylor University (by putting Facebook on the campuses of every college and university within 100 miles of Baylor). All of the friends of Baylor students at other colleges had it, so Baylor students had to have it.

      That’s the way Facebook is right now, all of the students have it. What does Google+ provide that the familiar tool where all of their friends are already on, that the familiar tool doesn’t do in some roundabout way? We look at these tools with educator or even functional eyes. Facebook and Google look at them through marketing eyes and that makes all of the difference.

  2. trifsus

    July 8, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I’m more worried about good education than use of a particular tool.

    A solid digital citizenship program for both students and their parents will help children use the Internet in situations where both parties feel comfortable and safe. Such an education program would include the points mentioned in the original post – privacy, respect and participating in a community (I like the way you explained each of these in “kids” terms!). That’s our part as educators. The rest is up to an individual family.

    • lmeinert

      July 9, 2011 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks for you comment! You are correct in that it boils down to education, and not the particular tool!

  3. cadeleo

    July 11, 2011 at 2:37 am

    In this day and age, digital communication is the only way that children can relate to our advancing technological world. As a parent, I have a young son that has a Facebook account, mainly to play games, communicate with other classmates, upcoming school events, and share his love for fly fishing. Of course, I’ve discussed the social responsibilities of using Facebook with my son, so that that he understands the rules and does not post anything that would hurt, harm, or injure another person.

  4. mkbnl

    July 11, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Luke, I know many children under the minimum 13 years of age requirement that are on Facebook. I also know many teenagers that have nothing to do with Facebook. The belief that this is the only way or the best way for children to communicate is a false premise. Children, like most people, will choose the tools that best suit them and their peers.

    As for the belief that one group of users will leave Facebook when another group comes on board, the same thing was said when Facebook went from needing a account to join to anyone joining. All of those college kids would leave Facebook when us old foggies joined (granted I was a doc student at UGA when Facebook came to campus, so I’ve been a member since the .edu days). It didn’t happen then and I suspect it won’t happen now.

    • lmeinert

      July 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

      While I don’t support that it is the best way or the only way children could/should communicate I advocate that it be an avenue available to children.


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