I know this isn’t writing related, but I was going to ask this on my Facebook page, than I had more thoughts on it (and no I do not want to put it in a note FB!) and I also felt like blogging.
First, some back story. I share with others in my home and they’re early risers, so by the time I get up (it’s not that late, not really) the television is already on and it’s usually the news or some sort of morning current affairs program that’s being aired. Due to one watcher being partially deaf, the captions option (Teletext) is on and the text from the program is usually stuck there during commercials. So when I go in the kitchen to make my breakfast, all bleary eyed, I have a habit of looking at the television and seeing the end of a sentence that has no visual connection.
This morning it was a question: Should under 13s be allowed to use Facebook?
And my first reaction was NO! Granted it wasn’t really that loud, it wasn’t even said aloud, instead it was in my head. I tend to argue in my head, but I also reason and create, so really that should be considered healthy for me. I think so.
So, at first it was no because there’s plenty of arguments for someone that young to not be online with a social network. Like, why aren’t you outside kid? Why aren’t you at your friend’s house hanging out? You’re jail bait… for pedophiles! And I’ve considered these arguments, and others pertaining to health issues, plenty of times because of one of my nephews being on FB (who has recently turned 13 so the question doesn’t apply to him anymore).
This makes me sound like I’m staunchly against it, but as is my habit, I started considering other factors and it led me to thinking – is Facebook this generation’s telephone? If you’re over the age of say 25, think about how you kept in touch with your friends when you were a kid. When I was a child I didn’t spend that much time on the phone, that wasn’t until around 12ish maybe, instead I’d go to people’s houses because they were accessible and usually up the road. The friends that weren’t close by I’d see at school and occasionally at some sort of outing, but mostly I was lucky that the people I wanted to hang out with weren’t a mile away or my parents were friends with their parents. If I wanted to catch up with those people, but couldn’t see them, the only way to do so was by calling them.
Facebook and other social networks all have their faults, and yes there are plenty of reasons for children not to be online at all let alone social networks (especially if they aren’t supervised or their parents aren’t internet savvy), but is Facebook an opportunity to open up their social world more? A chance for them to communicate with their friends easier, rather than waiting for their parents to take them somewhere, especially when their parents have had a long day and it’s probably the last thing they want to do? Or is Facebook, is and always will be, a chance for these children to be taken advantage of and a chance for parents to go with an easier option? (For parents: I’m not a parent and I don’t ask that last point out of ignorance or to offend people, I know a lot of parents who would bend over backwards for their kids and not necessarily opt for the easier solution because it suits them. It’s a point that could be argued, hence being mentioned).
What do you think? If you’re a parent would you or do you let your child under the age of 13 go on FB? And if you’re under the age of 13, are you on FB? Are you on any social networks and use the internet on a regular basis?