In the last Parent Tango blog, I talked about how we were battling our younger kids on their desires to have cell phones and how we were sticking to our guns, saying “no” – for now. I also mentioned how social media was a non-issue because the kids had seen enough bad things happen to friends on Facebook (bullying, namely) that they just weren’t asking for it for themselves.
Well, I spoke too soon. Right after writing that blog, Grace came home and said she wanted a Facebook account because she had surveyed the lunchroom and found herself to be “literally the only 8th grader” in her school who doesn’t have one. Likely not true but we let her state her case. Then we stated ours which consisted of mentions of cyberbullying, the distractions it poses to homework and sleep, the much better ways to stay in contact with friends, etc. Despite witnessing said laying down of the law, big sister Ann took it upon herself to start a Facebook page for Grace the next day, supposedly against Grace’s wishes!
How did we hear about this? From my sisters-in-law via Facebook who were surprised to see their young niece making “friend” requests to them. Why didn’t Thomas and I know? Because she blocked us!!! Ain’t parenting fun?
It got even more fun that night. After chastising Ann, she deleted her sister’s account. The very next day though, Grace started up another Facebook page all on her own! When we found out, we were furious, including Ann who yelled “I stood up for you, then got in trouble for you and now look what you’ve done!”
Why did Grace dare to sneak herself a Facebook page? Because in that one glorious day, she felt a part of things, one of the crowd with her peers at school. I guess I hadn’t thought of it, but apparently, they all correspond in the evenings and weekends via Facebook and their cell phones. What happened to kids calling each other on their family’s landlines? When I posed that question to Grace, she replied “that would mean talking to the parents and nobody wants to do that!”
What’s happening to kids and communication? Why does everything have to be on the sly without connecting with the parents first so we can, God forbid, get a grasp on who our kids’ friends are? Instead, it’s all snuck and in the case of social media, allowing strangers to reach our kids. Besides, I always thought of social media as being for adults. When did it become the preferred communication mode for children?
We don’t know what to do. We did delete her account and blocked the site – yup, from the whole family. We really don’t want to stunt her social life and we do realize we have to keep up with the times (we sound so old) and if this is how “the young people” socialize these days, we need to accept it. What we’re thinking of doing is giving a deadline of April 1. In that time, Grace has to show us that she is being responsible, and truthful. If she has, she will be allowed to set up a Facebook account under our guidance, “friend” both of us and let her know we’ll be checking up on her frequently. There will be limits as to when she can go on (after homework but before bedtime) and how much time she spends on it. The second we feel it’s effecting the more important parts of her life or that she’s attracting unwanted attention, we’ll pull the plug. Sounds like a good plan. Can we make it work?
Let us know what you’ve done, please. We need the advice and we’re pretty sure there are other parents out there who can benefit from your knowledge.