I have been very lucky with my Tween boy so far.
He is still very child-like and loves to play outside and with lego and build puzzles. He can entertain his little brother for hours and is definitely not your typical 11yr old. He is a very childish, playful Tween and quite frankly I prefer it this way. He doesn’t even have a mobile phone and if I were to get him one he would only be interested in playing games on it.
Even though he sees me using various social media he hasn’t really shown any interest in it.
I know that many parents allow their kids to have a FB page and a Twitter account and to use other media. I get that there are good reasons for this like having overseas family for example. I am not judging them, but if I’m completely honest, it is not something that I am completely comfortable with for my child at this point.
I really would like him to be a child for as long as possible and I believe that social media may possibly take that away from him sooner than I feel is necessary. I do think that social media can be dangerous for a child and I would have liked him to at least be in high school before we consider this.
Some months ago he asked me for a FB page. I told him that his Dad and I would discuss it and get back to him. My DH and I discussed it at length. We know that these are different times and that it really is only a matter of time for before this happens. I do understand how it feels not to “fit in” with your peers. I also understand that technology is one of the ways for him to fit in without me having to necessarily break the bank.
I wasn’t completely OK with the idea but was prepared to give it a bash (obviously with lots of policing and controls). My DH felt that if we needed to police it then it meant that he wasn’t ready and that we should possibly reassess this in about a year.
We made a decision that media would have to wait and discussed it with him. He understood it and was OK with it. We never spoke about it again and that was that.
After we had that conversation with him, we set up an email address for him as we felt comfortable with this. He basically only emails my parents and some of his classmates – really arb stuff like “we are having chicken and roast potatoes for dinner”. He does subscribe to certain newsletters (from ToysRUs and Canal Walk etc). And he enters competitions. My DH and I can live with this.
As with everything else, there are rules with the email. He knows that it is not a right for him to have email (or internet access for that matter) and that it is a privilege that can be revoked at any time. His room needs to be clean, homework needs to be done and checked etc. BEFORE he can check emails in the evenings. Also, there needs to be an adult present whenever he goes online. SO far we haven’t really had any issues.
Last week, he got a mail from a girl in his class – we’ll call her Nelly. He seems to really like her and is always telling me things that she told him. I’ve met her before (he introduced me to her at the Market Day last year) and I felt OK with her. I am not 100% OK with her at the moment (I wish I could tell him but then he won’t share with me anymore!) because I found out from my son a few weeks ago that she kisses boys! Call me old-fashioned but I am not quite OK with an 10yr old French kisser girl being my sons friend! Ugh. I obviously need to get over myself!
Anyway, Nelly sent him an email inviting him to FB to view her pics. He asked me to show him how to do this. I logged into my FB account and went onto her profile (which was NOT LOCKED btw – stuff like this REALLY makes me angry) and we looked at a few pics that she took with her mobile of some kids that they were at school with.
He asked me again about a FB page. I re-iterated that we had spoken about this before and that it was something that would have to wait for a while. He insisted that he is the only one in the whole school who doesn’t have FB. Sound familiar?
We then checked Nelly’s friends out and I asked him to identify all the people on her friends list who he was at school with. There was only one person. He asked me if I could speak to his Dad about it again. I told him I would but that I doubted that we would change our minds.
I am a bit torn about this. I don’t want it for him and at the same time I don’t want him to feel left-out. I don’t think that FB is for children and at the same time I think that with some guidance, he will be able to manage it. I feel that at some stage we need to show him that we trust him to make sound decisions and use good judgement.
As an ADHDer he has exceptionally poor social skills and I really would like us to do some more work on this before dipping our toes into the social media pond. Also, he has this habit (much like me I suppose) to get totally into something and lose all perspective of everything else in his life.
I haven’t had a chance to speak to my DH again (actually we don’t need to speak about this because we have already made a decision about this and WILL stick to it) but this is what I need to know from you:
Am I being unreasonably strict with my tween son about this? What do you think about kids and FB? Would you allow your 11yr old to have a FB page or a Twitter account? If you do have a child using social media how do you police it? What type of controls do you have in place?
Ps…a random interesting fact: I mentioned this in the office and was told that I am being unreasonably strict with him about this. I then put this matter out on Twitter and most of my followers completely agreed with my thought process on this. Those who did have kids on FB had VERY strict controls in place and were very consistent about enforcing them.
Pps…I was catching up on blogs in my reader earlier this evening and read this post from Jon Acuff which really made me think – not just about FB in relation to my kid but FB in relation to me. Perhaps I am in denial about how FB will affect my life in the long-run but I have to say that I didn’t quite see it like that. Right now, I am working on consciously trying to remain aware of this.