Actually, Facebook, My 11-Year-Old Does NOT Need an Account

Much like politicians need to pull out of my vag, Facebook needs to back off of my 11-year-old. There were reasons the age for use was set at 13. Have those reasons changed so drastically over the years? They haven’t in my house. Our computer is in the dining room. There are only certain days, particular hours that our children are allowed to use the computer, and even then we can opt to say no. The 11-year-old does have an iPod Touch, but there are restrictions on that as well. It doesn’t go upstairs when it’s time for bed, for instance. Hand it over whenever I ask so that I can see to whom you’re talking, what video you’re watching. However, before you take me to be parent of the year, know that I must first admit to outright hypocrisy: I don’t want my child lying about her age on Facebook, yet I lied about her age for her to create a Gmail email account.

I could have gotten her an email address on Verizon that would have been attached to mine; it would have been known she is a minor. And yet I opted to allow her to be able to talk to her friends via email and/or instant message. I check the account for spam, make sure she’s not saying anything untoward about her fabulous mother who makes her sweep the dining room floor every night (sometimes twice because seriously, you didn’t see that chicken bone under your brother’s chair?). I said yes to the email because I know the allure of not wanting our kids to be out of the loop. At the same time, I don’t want the loop seeking her out. I want to think that allowing my child a “safe” Facebook account would be similar to the drama-less experience with the email account. Yet, I know it won’t be. It won’t.

Larry Magid at Forbes writes, “Whether we like it or not, millions of children are using Facebook, and since there doesn’t seem to be a universally effective way to get them off the service, the best and safest strategy would be to provide younger children with a safe, secure and private experience that allows them to interact with verified friends and family members without having to lie about their age.” I’m sorry, but is there no more universal word than “no”? A shake of the head transcends the richest language barriers; it is universally understood. And no, I am not being unrealistic.

Just say no, parents. 

One of Mr. Magid’s headings is “Do it for the children.” Do what for the children? Let them continue to lose the ability to speak coherently, be comfortable in social situations where one has to actually speak rather than type, let alone type in incoherent code (Yes, yes, I know the code is only incoherent because I’m an old fuddy-duddy shortchanging children on fun.)? When do we teach them how to shake hands, make eye contact, be able to articulate their thoughts, even disagreeable ones, respectfully and face to face rather than only being direct when not directly confronted? Surely, that’s not Facebook’s job anymore than a teacher should be held accountable for a child who fails a test after not having had a good night’s sleep or breakfast. This is about parenting and being able to parent without giving in to “But Mooooom, everyone’s doing it.”

Just say no, parents.

This is essentially what it comes down to: Facebook is giving in to the whining. It begs the question: Where is the need for children under 13 to have access to Facebook? Outside of talking to friends and connecting with potentially distant relatives, where is the benefit? There is no educational (or social) benefit in playing online games (let alone ones that I might have to pay for). What is the value? What are they learning? How will they function in class when their minds are on what their next status post will be? Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying every minute online needs to be educational. But, I’ve always viewed the computer as a tool on which to learn while also enjoying oneself. What are the children learning on Facebook? As far as I can tell, they’re learning how to take self portraits in bathroom mirrors in their underwear. They’re learning to call other kids names behind the “protection” of the computer screen. They’re learning to talk and write via shortcuts for words that, when they then try to write a paper for school, do not convert easily to actual, acceptable English. 

I’ll tell you what I’ve learned: most of us lie about our happiness, lie about our bodies, lie about our success, lie about having actually showered today. Facebook is the Lair of Lies. This is not something I want to invite my child to do. Altering the age restriction will do nothing more than promote an already alarmingly high lack of direct communication.

I’m the parent. I’m saying no.

I apologize if I’m coming across as the “back in my day, sonny, we had to walk to school in the snow uphill both ways. You young whippersnappers don’t know the value of a handwritten, then mailed, letter.” Yet, is it so wrong to simply have our children connect with their friends at school, then (gasp!) not again until they return to school? What about the telephone? Is phoning grandma no longer an option since grandma knows how to Skype, has email, Twitter, Facebook, and an Instagram account? The constant reliance upon the immediate satisfaction that the “you’ve got mail” ding gives them offers no sense of what it means to be happy to speak to someone at school after the weekend. They’ve spoken to them all weekend long via handheld appendage.

Mr. Magid quotes a Wall Street Journal article that says lowering the age to 11 will “…help the company tap a new pool of users for revenue…” My child is more than part of an as yet, not fully tapped pool of users. The benefit of lowering the age of use to 11 benefits no one but Facebook from this untapped market. This is nothing more than a gateway to acceptance of tweens walking around with Juicy across their asses. I simply want to maintain my household as I see fit. It is easier for me, yes, that the restriction is 13; I can still say no, Facebook has an age requirement that you’ve not yet met. Certainly, even if I felt that at 13 my child still wasn’t ready for all that Facebook can be, I could continue to say no. If parents had specific rules and weren’t afraid to enforce those rules, children would understand that no means no. Sure, they would likely still push boundaries, but it would be easier on the parent if certain less than stellar stock market debuters would simply leave the age as is.

And no, I’m not disagreeing with the need for Facebook to lower its age requirements because I’d have to block my child from seeing my feed because sometimes I cuss. I am offended that you would suggest such. Wait, that was just my conscience? Oh, never mind her; she only uses Facebook to stalk her boyfriend from high school, watch videos that will likely give her computer an STD, and play Zynga games with “friends” she hasn’t otherwise spoken to since 1989.

What do you think? Is your under 13-year-old ready for a supposedly “safe” Facebook?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. “Do it for the children”??? Crazy, man. It’s a scary new world. Jude hasn’t discovered Facebook yet, but he HAS discovered YouTube in a big way, and has definitely happened upon some INAPPROPRIATE videos. Here in our house I feel like it’s okay, because our house is TINY, so I pretty much know what he’s doing all the time. But at his friends houses? Yikes, it’s amazing the stuff he says they saw on tv or watched on the internet. I feel like some parents are NOT PAYING ATTENTION.

    • This is what concerns me. At school, Chobe has free reign on computers. Because she is a “safe” student (i.e., one who has not been problematic) she is given a free pass. Um, NO! We regulate at home.

  2. No my 12 year old does NOT ‘need’ a Facebook account. Neither does my 14 year old. I am fighting the hard fight against having a cell phone and texting – although “everyone has one”. No my kids don’t need a cell phone – maybe once a month they need to call home for a ride or what ever. The trouble they could get into …..

    • shama-mama says:

      So true! I don’t think they need a cellphone. Probably wont need one til they start driving. Hopefully i can hold out that long!

    • See, I’m not saying don’t let the children progress. I’m saying, be mindful of what is “needed.” Your kids don’t “need” a phone. My kid does not “need” a phone (right now). Sure, it’s every parent’s choice, and each household’s needs are different, but Facebook at 11 just seems wholly unnecessary to me. Hell, you said your 14 yr old; each person has to decide at what point their kid is ready.

  3. Eleven? Umm no. Don’t think so!

  4. This needs to be front page on BlogHer. SO well said. And I happen to agree with all the points you made too. You’re an excellent mom!

    • I am trying to be Kim; apparently not everyone agrees with my writing, but that’s a good thing, right? Calls for more discussion, right? (note that I am giving you the one BITCH WHAT eyebrow).

  5. This is a great piece of writing and I agree with every word. So many parents do not realize what is in their kids’ hand when they have an iPod. And no matter how often you tell them, kids don’t get it when you say that we were like you at the same age…..but we didn’t PUT IT IN WRITING!!!! It is forever!! I don’t have Facebook but if I did maybe I would have made the same mistake as many parents and that is feeling on top of it by being a “friend” to your child on Facebook. No–kids get on it and they have “chats” and then they create sub-groups that only their chosen friends can see. So you may think all your kid talks about is sports and school, but you should see what the good kids talk about in secret. Ours was allowed Facebook only if I was him–meaning I’d log in as him. Trust me–it is a good way to find out which kids you don’t want your (now 16 yr old) even driving with, or to confirm which parents completely have the rug pulled over their eyes.
    Fast forward when they are old enough to date. Ummmm, actually no one dates anymore. They communicate via texting and such and get intimately close fast–more so than if they saw each other in person and actually had ice cream or movie date together and realized they didn’t like each other. Then they break up a week later and the pain is just as bad as if they had gone out the old fashioned way for months. They don’t need it. Which is why our 16v yr old deactivated his and why the 14 yr old doesn’t have one and the 11 yr old knows to not even ask.
    P.S. Random checking of texts is quite the fodder for good teaching moments.

    • Oh, MIchele. Michele, Michele, Michele. I have SO much to say. But it basically comes down to: the need. Where is the need at 11? Where is the benefit? Thank you for your comment.

  6. I’m so glad FB didn’t really get going until my kids were already 13 or rapidly approaching. I agree…FB is the lair of lies in that you are only allowed into peoples’ successes. I only use it to stalk as well ;-)

    “there no more universal word than “no”. It is the easiest word to say yet the hardest to hold to and enforce. “NO” is what makes being a parent very hard.

    Arnebya, this is a great and well written post. Have missed your writing lately :-)

    • Thanks, Gina; I’ve been in a mental slump lately but this really hit home b/c I have an 11 yr old. I’m glad to have your perspective since you have older kids.

  7. LOVE this—-> “I’m sorry, but is there no more universal word than “no”? A shake of the head transcends the richest language barriers; it is universally understood. And no, I am not being unrealistic.” You are so right.

    Set the boundaries and stick to them people! :-) Well put! :-)

    • Thanks, Nicole; aren’t we supposed to give the kids boundaries and expectations? I just think 11 is a bit young to expect them to actually adhere to what “should be” done.

  8. I really hope FB falls apart before my girls even know about it. I want to keep them off of it for as long as possible. I think you need to be mature to have an account or it can really come back to bite you in the bum. So many employers are looking up applicants before/after interviews. It can truly make or break so many things in your life.

    And I am right there with you shaking my head and my face saying no!

    • In all honesty, I think maybe it will, like MySpace did — fall apart. There will always be something else, yes, but to expect that an 11 yr old knows how to navigate it all? No.

  9. I absolutely love this post because i agree 100%.
    When my SIL allowed my nephew who is 9 get a facebook account I nearly flipped my lid. NINE.
    What purpose does a nine year old have on facebook? She said it was so he could play the games.
    I think that you really should submit this post to blogher. Really.

    • I think there was an age limit for a reason. When kids younger than 13 have access, even if it is only for games, it becomes about more than games. If we haven’t yet taught them how to deal with the crap that comes with being online, what good is it doing them?

  10. Yes. Yes. And yes.

    I have two eleven year-olds. I know…lucky me.

    And they are always the last ones on the block to have EV-ER-Y THING COOOOOOLLL, MOMMMMMM.

    Around our house, we do things on the timetable that works for us. To put a finer point on it, for my groom and me. As the parents. And we don’t need assistance from any outside sources, some of which are simply preying on our children to make a buck.

    Well said.

    • Thanks, Sue. This wasn’t even meant to be a “GOD NO, DON’T LET THE 11 YR OLDS!” but more of a take stock of where your family is right now and if it works for you, so be it. I have quite a few followers whose children have Facebook accounts. I didn’t alienate them by saying my child won’t be joining theirs and I certainly didn’t intend to offend them for deciding their children were ready.

  11. Our society is becoming more and more disgusting by the second. praising consumerism and glamour while our economy tanks. everyone wants live like the rich or at least look it, while the rich are just getting richer on the backs of the uninformed public. now facebook wants to lower the minimum age for their users FOR MONEY. So facebook goes public, has a massive FAIL and now they want to “tap a new pool of users for revenue.” really….11 and 12 year olds??? what 5th and 6th graders have jobs etc that this is even feasible. and why arent parents sending emails in droves to facebook about the audacity of them to manipulate children and expose them to an environment beyond their comprehension, just to make up for your losses. and people are just to busy to care. i guess people will really care when there are no jobs in america and no one has any valuable REAL skills because we’ve all been staring at the screen for the last 10 years and raised our children in a world where the screen is king.

    wow that was long =D

    • You know, Alice, it’s amazing. I don’t see the need for a sixth grader to have a Facebook account. I don’t want to seem stuck in the 80s but damn, call your grandmother if you want to talk to her. I believe there are equal amounts of parents who say it’s ok and parents who are against. I just keep going back to there being a 13 yr old age requirement to begin with. What’s changed?

  12. I have to join the Just Say No club. I agree with everything you wrote here. I want my kids in the loop that I want them in for now. I want to determine when they step outside of My Loop and into another. I don’t think they will suffer terrible lives if they are forced to wait until they are older to “grow up”. I pride myself on staying up to date on a lot of the norms and think I can guide them in a way I feel comfortable with so they won’t be completely naive when it’s time to set them loose.

    Of course, I’m just saying this is what works for us. I don’t judge when I see other parents let their kids have more freedom online.

    Good writing as usual :)

    • See, that’s just it. I haven’t judged other parents for allowing it; their reasons are their own. But. As an overall age, 11 is just not cutting it for me. I keep going back to 13 being the original age. There had to be a reason for that and I believe that reason has merit still.

      Your kids are still so, so young. I can’t wait to see what life online is like when the oldest is 11, what, 8+ years from now?

  13. We’ve said no as well. No way I want my 11 on FB.

    • But, Angie, WHY? All the reasons I listed? I thought they were well-founded reasons, for your Grace and my Chobe embarking pre-teenism. Read Christina’s comment and let me know why you feel the way you do, please, if we’re “limiting” our children.

  14. Christina says:

    Each parent needs to decide if their children are capable of this type of interaction. Bottom line – this is the way the world works and your kids are either gunna make those online social mishaps as children ( when it is forgivable and you have some input and guidance) or as adults. The idea that children dont know how to socialize is the standard response to new technology. Watch the “Litlle House on the Prairie” episode about the telephone coming to Walnut Grove. It is the same matra: “No one really talks anymore.”

    You may think saying no is the easiest way to parent but you are really just trying to get out of doing your job of guiding them in a world full of technological options. Parents who spend all their parenting time trying to “limit” their children will find it harder than just making sure that all interactions are kind and represent a digital legacy they can be proud of. Get them off to that start early and you won’t have to try to reign it in when they are teenagers.

    As far as Facebook being educational – it is! They are learning about other people – giving them something to talk to Aunt Bessie about at the next Christmas party instead of sitting in a corner playing with the other kids. They are learning to adapt when changes are made to programs which is part of every job in the world today. They are learning to express themselves and interact at a larger level than just “what mommy and daddy says” and that is truly scary for mom’s that don’t want their kids to progress farther than they have.

    You are the parent. You decide. And don’t be swayed by ranting parents that have decided to re-create their idyllic childhoods by saying no to options that were not available when they were kids.

    • Christina, thank you for your commet. However, I think you’ve missed my point. While, yes, I believe people will make mistakes, I don’t believe those missteps need to happen as children so that the teen years are easier (I was an easy child and teen). In fact, I think as children, they should be shown the CONSEQUENCES of said mishaps. I’ve seen the Prairie episode you’re referring to. I don’t see myself in that, though. There will always be advances, yes, to things we didn’t have as children: the telephone, the tv, computer, video game consoles (LONG LIVE ATARI no matter how much I love my WII!), the ipod, etc. I am an open to change parent. But. I don’t believe I am providing my kids a disservice by saying that social interaction VIA FACEBOOK should be prohibited prior to 13 (or longer if a parent chooses (or permissible earlier should a parent choose). My children already learned that all interactions, let alone social ones, are not “kind”. Please.

      Remember, 13 was the age Facebook originally set. I ask again: what has changed since then that warrants 11 year olds to have full access to the service (or modified, or whatever)?

      I couldn’t possibly pretend to care any less about what my kids and Aunt Bessie talk about at the next Christmas party. In fact, if I have ANYTHING to say about it, my kids will have talked to Aunt Bessie so much that there won’t be shit to discuss come Christmas. This, Christina, is not my attempt to thwart their progress. This is my attempt to parent fully aware of all that surrounds them and give them an alternative. And no, saying no alone isn’t always going to work; my comment shouldn’t have been taken as a blanket statement to “just say no.” That would be entirely too simplistic in relation to parenting. But in this instance, when I am still in control of the majority of the content my kids purposely encounter online? Yes, no is working for us for now. They know our expectations and until the time comes when they try to buck the rules, we’re sticking with what works for us. As another commenter said, it’s what the other parents allow (and for us, the school computer lab) that is more concerning.

      Further, I don’t see how my words served as a catalyst for another person’s change or decision. As this is MY blog, I’m sure that every person reading felt this is MY opinion, not a “do this/don’t do this”. In fact, a few readers have 11 yr olds who have FB accounts. My words (which hardly add up to a “rant”) have not aliented them, I assure you. Also, there are plenty of things that weren’t available to me as a child that my children have full access to because it either enriches our lives or adds to their childhood. Facebook, Christina, is not one of those things (and I assure you, none of my readers took my words as law for all under 13 FB users, but again, thank you for your suggestion that I have enough power to change other peoples’ minds). Sadly, it just isn’t true.

      Do you have children?

  15. This was a great post! I personally get so annoyed by facebook. I really hope it breaks down by the time my boys are of age but I’m sure something else will replace it anyway. When it is my turn I’m sure I’ll be figuring out what to do and what age is appropriate to do it as well.

Speak Your Mind