The following is a paraphrased conversation my friend and I had about facebook, and whether to let our teens get their ‘wall’ on. We both wondered if you have anything else to add to the discussion…
Friend: My son just turned 13 and is asking for a facebook. What factored into your decision to allow your teens to have one?
Me: We see it as a right of passage. It’s definitely a privilege that can be revoked.
Friend: But I feel my protector sensors shifting into overdrive. What about aggressive girls? What about inappropriate pictures coming through as private messages?
(I wrote about flirty teens here.)
Me: Well you’ll definitely want to be involved. First of all, his first friend must be you. (Thanks to my interview with Jill for this advice.) And tell him that at the first hint of something inappropriate, you want to know about it. It’s his job to come ask you for guidance. (And tell him it won’t go nearly as well if you find out another way!) Maybe you’ll want him to delete profanity or private message a friend who has publicly degraded someone.
As for aggressive girls… Don’t you think facebook is a good way to coach him through this? You would have tangible examples to respond to. You could point out exactly what, in her message, seems aggressive to you, and help him fine tune what he will someday look for in a wife. (Yikes!)
You know… facebook can be a great way for you to know more about the kids your son is interacting with.
Friend: But am I being deceptive by doing this? I mean, here we are letting him have a facebook, but we control it? That doesn’t seem right.
Me: No, I think you’re just offering him accountability. It’s only deceptive if he doesn’t know you have the password—which he should! It’s like teaching him how to drive. He’ll have an adult in the seat next to him for at least 50 hours before he drives solo.
Friend: But what if he makes a mistake that goes viral and can’t be erased?
Me: If you think your son is on the brink of driving off a cliff, by all means, don’t give him the keys. Tell him, “When we’re confident you can handle it, we’ll let you have a facebook.”
But don’t let yourself be driven by fear. Fear shouldn’t be the primary factor in your decision making about anything. Remember that if your son is a Christian, he has the Holy Spirit! That’s your biggest hope for him living victoriously, and not driving off a moral cliff.
Friend: So true… I want him to be guided by the Holy Spirit, not by a fear of getting caught. I want to raise my son to please God, not just his parents!
Ok friends… we let you eavesdrop in on our conversation. What do you have to add? Those with more experience, what else should we be considering? What has helped you make a decision about teens on facebook?