Ever since the start of the school year last June, I've been bombarded with questions as to when Zoe and Ziya will have their own Facebook accounts. Initially, it were Zoe and Ziya who asked me that question. Kai and I talked about it and decided that the girls are too young to have their own accounts. Zoe is only 9 while Ziya is 8. They've had computer classes in school and so they know how to use a computer. They know how to use the Internet too and that's what scares me, I guess.
For the past year, we've allowed the girls to use the computer only when we are home. Otherwise, they cannot touch it at all. We seldom let them use the Internet and when they do, it's usually just to play games online. I make sure that either Kai or I are at home to supervise what they're playing and which sites they go to. They are familiar with Facebook, Twitter and other social media initially because they see me or Kai use them. They know the Facebook games I play and I let them view photos that I or my friends have uploaded. I also let them view or even read some of my blog posts. All their Internet usage are supervised by me or Kai and they never complained nor asked to be left alone while using the computer.
So, when confronted with the question "When can we have our own Facebook account?", Kai and I told the girls that they're only allowed to have one when they turn 12. I feel that by that time their computer skills will be more advanced, as well as their maturity, I hope. But even then, we still plan to supervise. Our girls accepted our decision and we thought that was the end of the discussion. So just imagine our shock when one of Zoe's classmates actually confronted us about it. Apparently, she's had her own Facebook account since she was 7. She was questioning why we don't allow Zoe and Ziya the same privilege. She wanted to chat and play games with them. I wish it was easy to explain why. We just said that Facebook is usually for adults and that Zoe and Ziya are still kids. We thought that was the end of the discussion. We were wrong. It has been months since that first confrontation. There would be many more after that. Now that it's the end of the school year already, my girls are still feeling the pressure of getting their own account. Their classmates just won't let them hear the end of it.
Are your kids on Facebook? Do you let them use it on their own? I, for one, am really not comfortable letting them do that, what with all the things you can find in the Internet. On Facebook alone, you'd already be able to find ads with adult content. I'm also wary of them reading posts from other people that contain stuff I don't want them to see or know about yet. I also don't want them to be exposed to possible pedophiles. The World Wide Web is full of them. Scares the heck out of me.
Months ago, a former classmate of Zoe, who was then only 8 years old, also befriended me on Facebook. Initially I thought she was being monitored by her parents but apparently I was wrong. She started chatting with me and asking me personal stuff about my life, like why the girls' dad and I are separated, etc etc. It was very, very uncomfortable. During times when I was busy doing something else (while being online on Facebook at the same time), she would constantly bug me when I couldn't immediately chat with her. I find her actions horrific, something I don't want my kids to be doing. It makes me wonder what else she's allowed to do online.
I know that parents shouldn't be overly protective but during these times, can you really blame me for being so? Facebook is technically for those who are at least 18 years of age and my daughters are far from that age. I believe it's my responsibility as a parent to decide on what things they should be exposed to at this time of their lives because their childhood experiences are what will mold them. Parents are the best teachers, right? My daughters still have a lot to learn and a lot of growing up to do. So, when it comes to my kids, we're saying no to Facebook for now.