Children Shouldn’t Be On Facebook- Dad Said No

Albert Einstein Français : portrait d'Albert E...

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” Albert Einstein

I want to thank my fellow member of the tribe, Albert Einstein for furnishing me with a quote that I used to devastate school teachers and assorted adults. The younger and far more obnoxious version of myself used to wield that quote like a cudgel.

Someone would suggest that we study/learn/do something and I would ask why. There was glee in my eyes and a lilt to my voice because I just knew that the fly was about to get caught in my web. If they couldn’t tell me in simple terms why something was I would tell them that Einstein disapproved.

There isn’t any need to share the outcome of those conversations other than to say that some people promised me that one day  I would have children who were just like me and they were right.

On more than one occasion I have responded to their inquiries with “because I said so” or something similar. And one more than one occasion I have thought that Einstein would kick my ass and then I remember that I am not afraid of dead pacifists.

Can I Sign Up For Facebook?

She is 7.75 years-old now going on 30 and she wants a Facebook account. She doesn’t understand why there are rules that say that kids under 13 can’t have a Facebook account. That is because so many of her friends have their own account.

When I ask the dark haired beauty why she wants one she smiles sweetly, takes my hand in hers and says that she wants to send me love letters. I smile and tell her that I like hand written notes better. She smiles again and says that if I give in I can take her to her high school prom.

I smile back and tell her that she will be really unhappy if I am her prom date. She hugs me tight and says, “daddy, I love you! I won’t ever be upset if you are my date.” I look down at her and tell her that I am going to blog about that promise later so that is recorded for posterity.

When she asks what posterity is I laugh and tell her that is the thing that one day will make her say that “dad was right.” She doesn’t understand and in this case I feel no need to try to explain why I said it. That is good for everyone including the ghost of Einstein who can go haunt the Shmata Queen for a while. They can have fun doing higher math together.

Parents- Be Their Father/Mother

Sometimes these conversations with my kids make me crazy because some of my fellow parents are idiots. Some of you haven’t figured out that children need structure and boundaries. You try to be the cool dad/mom by never saying no and instead you raise a monster who comes to my house and is shocked when I set limits.

It is ok with me because when it comes to my children I don’t think twice about setting boundaries. My children know that their father loves to spend time with them. They know that in many ways I am just a big kid but they also know that I have lines that cannot be crossed.

One look is usually all it takes for them to see that they are dancing around that place they don’t want to be. I don’t have to spank them or hit them to make them toe the line. That is because I set boundaries from the start. BTW, I am not saying that spanking is good or bad. Both of my kids have been spanked, probably a total of twice in their lives.

That last line ought to be good for a few letters from readers who will lecture me about my “brutality.” For good measure let me say that I am pro circumcision. My son was clipped and so was I. And if you really wanted to know why I could explain it in simple detail.

But let’s step back from that and talk about whether my circumcision hurt me. I don’t remember a thing but I can tell you that everything has been functional down below for years. I’d offer letters of recommendation from past ‘guests’ but that would be considered bad form and frankly this post isn’t about that.

What This Post Is About

No this post is about acknowledging that sometimes good intentions go awry. We say that when our children ask questions we will give them a simple and easy to understand answer but sometimes we fall short. We say that we’ll do it with friends and colleagues but sometimes we fall short.

It is not always a bad thing. Sometimes you have nothing but your judgment and common sense to rely upon. My daughter doesn’t need to be on Facebook and not because certain friends of mine recently posted 25 year old pictures of us at a fraternity party where we may not have been sober. Oh hell, I remember that night and the next morning which is a feat that ought to be recorded in the Guiness Book of World Records.

I said no because there is no compelling reason to give my children another task to complete on the computer. They will spend more than enough time on it for school. Life will push them there and they will spend ungodly amounts of time on social media platforms except they won’t start as a grown up who recognizes that what we write and say can live forever.

They’ll get on there and make mistakes that could follow them around from school to school. And though I’ll do my best to monitor and guide them I can’t always be around. So it won’t hurt to keep them away for a bit longer and it won’t hurt to get them to run around and exercise like we did when we were kids.

My children don’t need to be on Facebook right now and I am good with that.

How about you?

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  1. Beth March 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    I, too, enjoy reading about your parenting Style. I think we have a lot in common. Imagine life if you were married to one of those fellow parents. I am the NO-parent in my home. AKA: The meanie. I worry how every little thing in my children’s lives will affect their mental and emotional development. My children being 10 and 11, I’ve also faced the “I need a FB, ALL of my friends have one” discussion. I told my children I didn’t feel they were mature enough to be on those sites. My son being the little diplomat he is… wanted to negotiate. I simply said, there haven’t been any case studies. When I meet a well rounded 35 year old, who grew up substituting real social interactions with Internet chat, who can laugh without saying LOL, and face hardship without screaming OMG. We’ll talk.

  2. Carolyn March 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    “And one more than one occasion I have thought that Einstein would kick my ass and then I remember that I am not afraid of dead pacifists.”

    Your writing always amazes and impresses me, Jack.

    I admit it. I caved when my twins were 11 and let them join Facebook. We were moving away from England and most of their friends were on Facebook. I knew that by joining Facebook before they left they could keep connections with their international friends in ways they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

    The absolutely worst part of their joining Facebook at 11 was that their 14 year old sister was incredibly angry with us since we had made her wait until she was 13 to join.

    Now the twins barely go on Facebook. Go figure.

    • Jack March 27, 2012 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Carolyn,

      You are too kind. I really appreciate the compliment. Writing is a passion but I practice it daily with the goal of getting better.

      I hope it works.

      Anyhoo, I can understand why you let your twins join FB. If I were in the same position I might have done the same thing.

      Kids are really good at paying attention to what we let them do and when. Leave it to them to think they know when their siblings got more than they did.

      Always good to see you, thanks for coming by.

  3. Jack March 22, 2012 at 12:12 am

    That is what I am pushing- more time rollerskating, bike riding or doing other things outside.

  4. Jens P. Berget March 22, 2012 at 12:03 am

    My kids won’t be on Facebook before they’re at least 13. They haven’t started asking yet, my daughter will be 9 in September and she spends a lot of time on the computer as it is, and I really want them to be more outside 🙂

  5. Mary March 21, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    I am with you. Our children have to be 13 before they access it. Younger than that, and no. Boundaries and saying no are important, it’s up to us to guide them into adulthood. No, not totally sheltering, no not making every decision, but helping them understand what is important at the right age. Yes, parents are parents, not best buddies to their children. Good post!

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 11:16 pm

      Hi Mary,

      I figure that when my kids are in their twenties or so I can look into becoming their friend then.

      But not now, they need a father more than they need a friend.

      You are absolutely right about our responsibility here.

  6. Connie March 21, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    7-1/2?!? Yikes, no way in heck! Trust me, I have a 24 & 26 year old….put it off as long as possible.

  7. Bill Dorman March 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Don’t hoodwink me, circumcision is a good thing and I’m glad my parents had it done for me.

    My wife doesn’t want me on FB so I can sympathize with your daughter.

    Boundaries are so important and fortunately my wife was the one who ended up being the disciplinarian. Not by choice, but our methods were different and to stay consistent, I just let her run with it. My boys are mid 20’s and out of the house but probably talk with her much more than they do with me so I think it worked out ok. She didn’t like being the ‘bad’ guy but if she knew this was on the back end I don’t think there would have been much grumbling.

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 11:11 pm

      It sounds to me like your boys came out just fine. Productive members of society- that is the goal isn’t it.

      Sometimes it is hard to find that consistency. My son has a friend whose parents make me crazy because they constantly contradict each other.

      The kid means well but he has no boundaries so I wonder what will happen.

  8. V-Grrrl March 21, 2012 at 12:28 pm

    My kids are teens and both are on FB. My son doesn’t do much there but my daughter does. We interact there sometimes and it’s fun. She handles social media really well and knows what does and does not belong there. She has a good time and knows when to step away.

  9. March 21, 2012 at 9:35 am

    I love your daughter. She sounds every bit as entertaining as you. My girls are older and both have accounts, but they did not get them until they were twelve and there are rules. They can’t friend anyone that they can’t prove to me they know, and I have to be allowed to go into their account anytime I want. I also have made a point of showing them how stupid their 20 something cousins look when every post includes party shot of them drinking. So far it’s going well, but they are only 12 & 14, so we shall see.

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm

      Well we share the love of my daughter in common. 😉

      She is a piece of work and I mean that in the best way possible because in many ways she is me.

      But she is smarter and better looking- fortunately size and life experience help to compensate for that.

      I like your rules. They make a lot of sense to me and I expect that I will probably adopt many or all of them.

  10. Mike Shields March 21, 2012 at 7:50 am

    I had much the similar argument with my children this morning, however, they are 15 and 17, and I admit to letting my then 12 year old using Facebook for the first time.

    I agree about the ‘needing the computer for one more task’ comment.

    It should be simple to explain things, however, my AP psychology taking daughter always goes to the argument that simply because I know more, doesn’t make me wise. She might be right, however, she’s more likely wrong 😉

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      Hi Mike,

      Your daughter makes me laugh. I recognize that line of thinking and am probably guilty of using it too.

      I always appreciate hearing stories about parents who held their ground. It is so very important.

  11. Gina March 21, 2012 at 7:27 am

    I don’t remember Facebook being a big deal for my kids until they got to high school. Dating myself…maybe that’s when it ramped up, can’t remember. Big, when they were in middle school, was AIM and I hated that because it was so secretive and immediate. My kids always forgot to log out and being the nosy mom, I read everything. Being older, their pages are pretty sanitized now, or they better be for employment purposes!

    So much stuff goes down on Facebook during the high school years. I thought it was pretty scary but always kept an eye on it. Most parents I know do monitor in one form or fashion. Waaaay too much info out there for these kids to read, view and pass around!

    7.75 is pretty young but you’re a tough dad (adding loving) so you’ll handle it well.

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm

      AIM was/is dangerous in that it provided a lot of opportunity for mischief.

      I had friends whose middle school children got into a lot of trouble because of their IMs.

      Turns out that their friends would come over and use their computer including their username.

      Well I tell her that it is because I love her that I won’t just let her do anything.

  12. Kristen March 21, 2012 at 7:04 am

    I’m getting increasingly worried about how much more difficult it is/is going to be for our kids given the omnipresence of social media. Where can a kid escape from the social pressures of school if they sit down in front of their Facebook page as soon as they get home? Reading a recent article in The New Yorker about the death of Tyler Clementi has made me think long and hard about the pitfalls of our information age and your post gives me even more to think about. Thanks, friend.

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Kristen,

      I wonder about the same things. Sometimes I turn my phone off for hours and get lost in what I am doing.

      I won’t lie and say that I could completely give up my droid but I know how to disconnect and be content.

      I want my children to have the same ability. You are exactly right about needing a place to decompress and not think about school.

  13. Lance March 21, 2012 at 4:00 am

    Hell, I don’t need to be on the facebook or the twitter and I’m 41.

    I promote my blog on both medias and I’m honest about that.

    I don’t like my 16-year-old being on the facebook. She’s a great kid with excellent grades. She’s earned my trust. Still, her mom and I check her account like a CIA Analyst looking after terrorist cells. After two years, there have been few bad incidents.

    I think 13 is a good to gauge a tryout account for a child. At some point you have to trust them to make their own mistakes.

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      I figure that the day will come when my kids are officially connected and I don’t fear that but I don’t see a need to rush it either.

      I think you are doing absolutely the right thing monitoring your kids account. When the time comes I will too.

  14. Stan Faryna March 21, 2012 at 12:30 am

    I enjoy reading about how you parent, Jack. I especially appreciate your sensitivity and common sense.

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 12:22 pm

      Hi Stan,

      I appreciate that. Parenting always makes me think of Captain Kirk talk about space being the final frontier- because so many times parenting feels just like that to me.

  15. Hajra March 21, 2012 at 12:05 am

    I did talk about kids being on Facebook and many people say it is about the emotional maturity of the kid. But a 7 year old; too young, let her explore the world as she sees it first hand not through some online site where she has to “like” and comment on every thing. Let them form opinions first hand; let them stop judging on the basis of how they look and how many likes they have.

    Once they are old enough and feel they really don’t “want” it; they call have it. Like an episode in Desperate Housewives where Gabrielle Solis tells her 6 year old “I will let you do make up they day you know that you really don’t it to look pretty”.

    • Jack March 21, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      I work hard to try to give the kids a “normal” life and I am not convinced that FB does that. As you said, she is too young for some of this stuff.

      I’d much rather she wait and experience a few more things.

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