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Social Networking and Kids: Do they mix?

In our most recent weekly school newsletter, it was shared that a growing number of elementary students have Facebook accounts, even if Facebook is not to be used by children under the age of 13. From the Common Sense Media website: "73% of 12- to 17-year olds have at least one social networking profile".  Youth have access to the internet in libraries, on phones, or on other mobile devices.  

When we received an email announcing big money for Pixy Kids, a social media platform for kids age 6-12 and their parents, I immediately felt conflicted.  Actually, I might have said outloud: "Hell, no."

My kids went through a stage where they loved the stuffed toy line Webkinz.  Toys came with a name and code that would give them an identity online, where they could build/decorate a house (a la Sim City, it seemed to my), maybe play games to earn some Web Currency, use the funds to buy decor for the house, or what not.  It wasn't for a while that I realized that there was also a chat-room feature of the Webkinz website.  When I realized that, we stopped allowing use of the computer to get on Webkinz.

What role does social medial play for our kids?  Any?  None?  Some?  Sure, many of us mamas & papas use Facebok, but should our kids have access to a similar platfrom, an age-appropriate Facebook?  Like Pixy Kids?



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No. It's bad enough that most of us grown ups tend to forego face-to-face interaction for the internet (she types whilst sipping coffee alone and commenting on a blog post), but we shouldn't start giving our kids the same substitute for proper social interaction. Kids (and adults) need to interact with their peers in person in order to become well-rounded sociable people. Offer them a lazy internet substitute, and we'll end up with kids who stare blankly at people who try to talk to them in public, wondering where the 'ignore' button is.

Both of my kids are online just as my husband and I are. My daughter got a facebook in 8th grade my son has never asked for one. I can tell you that older kids who are not permitted Facebooks have them anyway and access them at school and other places, usually under a fake name so their parents cannot find it. I'll look over my daughters shoulder and see a name I don't recognize and ask who that is and she'll explain it's x using a fake name to hide their facebook from their parents. We thought it was better to allow her one on the condition that she friend her father (I don't have a facebook) and she knows we monitor. Many older kids also have twitters and tumblrs. It is how they communicate.

I hate the idea of it and will hold out as long as we possibly can, but I think once my kids are teenagers, I'd allow Facebook as long as I am able to access it. First, if you forbid them to do it, they'll find a way to do it behind your back. Second, I've seen through my niece that FB is really an integral part of how she and her friends communicate, plan parties, etc. I wouldn't want my kid left out of that.

My kids are still young, so likely there will be something new by then, but I can see working with my kids to help them be safe instead of banning it outright.

My son is 9 and hasn't expressed any interest in being on Facebook (my daughter is 2 so we have a way to go there yet). I don't use FB and my husband closed his FB account after the privacy issues became too frustrating for him. I know it's likely that kids who are banned from social media will find some other way to get on it (as with almost everything else). So, we will have to cross that bridge at some point, but I'm not wild about a program that directs social media to even younger kids. Right now, I think 13 is young enough.

Jacqueline, I'm with you all the way. Maybe when they're teenagers, but my kids' social circle right now is all about playing music together, running around outside and building stuff. They don't need social media to stay connected. My 6th grader is not going on FB. (Heck, I'm not on FB myself.)

I'm not an Fbook user. My kids and hubby all have a page there. My kids got theirs at 13. My son uses his seldom. Mostly in a "I like that video" context. My daughter uses hers to keep up with the other girls some. Hubby checks up on them to make sure they haven't used profanity or "liked" anything we find horribly objectionable. That's just the rules if you live in our house.

I'm with anon---FB is big, even with older elementary school kids, let alone middle schoolers. If you forbid it, your child WILL find a way to get on it. In our case, it also allows our daughter to stay in touch with out of state relatives.

My husband, myself and any number of other family members are all FB friends of my daughter's and we keep an eye on her account activity. Most of what she does is to post goofy anime pictures and videos, so like everything else---if you do your job as a parent, you shouldn't have any issues.

We have had several relos for grad school/jobs and my daughter loves facebook since she's been able to stay connected and re-connect with friends that are far away. Make new friends but keep the old...

Absolutely not. If they don't see their parents on it all the time, maybe they won't have such a "need" for it.

I have found with my older nieces and nephews, they are all friends with me and their parents, or their parents' friends, and after awhile they forget who their friends are and "be themselves." I have had to write messages to my teenaged niece to remind her that she is friends with her grandmother and might want to keep that in mind when using profanity. Most of the teens I know keep it pretty appropriate. And when they don't I will message privately and call them out. I am hoping that is how it will be when my daughter is old enough...she is 6 now and loves to fb over my shoulder so I know it will come in the next couple of years. I think 13 is a good age. They can stay home by themselves after school, start babysitting and taking on responsibilites, and with good boundaries, they can start to explore the social media world in the appropriate way.

I, like others here, will probably give in to the inevitability of FB when my daughter is old enough, but not before. A social media site for kids 6-12? Not in my world.

In the case of a site for 6-12 year olds, the only criticism I would have is that there's a HUGE difference between 6 and 12. I suspect most of the users would be more along the lines of 7-10.

Six is really too young (unless it's like the Build a Bear site) and a kid 10 or older would probably find the entire thing waaaaay too babyish.

When my daughter was younger she loved club penguin which was a silly site that at the time 8year old girls were crazy about.

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Social media has become so pervasive, so commonplace and anyone have an access even kids. There are a lot of available tools online that prevent kids from going to websites that are not child-friendly.

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