As I posted earlier, Firstborn turned 13 last week. Some of the kids at our school lie about their age and get a Facebook account prior to age 13 (the required age). Not us! Being honest about her age online AND delaying that privilege to make it special were both important to CC and me. This week she got her account!
I did a little research prior to letting her sign up. I am sure there are differences of opinion among those reading this blog. Some would not consider letting their 13 year old have a Facebook account, and I am sure there are valid reasons for that. But we determined that it would be ok for her. First of all, I trust her modesty and discretion fully both in dress and talk. We all have issues we struggle with, but those are not hers.
Also, she is a TCK (Third Culture Kid)...meaning she is a mix of many cultures, without one she can really call her own. She has an American passport, was born in Singapore, but has had all her growing up years in Turkey. She's a mix. When we fly into America, we discuss the things to remember about the "foreign country" we are landing in. No, you can't take candy from strangers like you do in Turkey. Hugging and kissing on both cheeks people you've just met would not be appropriate, etc. It's a wonderful place that she wants to live in one day, but for now, it's just a place to visit her beloved sets of grandparents and cousins.
So, all that to say...Facebook is wonderful for a TCK. She's already been able to find childhood friends that have moved to far away countries. She's currently looking for a little friend that she shared the Lord with so many years ago. For her to be able to re-connect and stay connected, even when these kids fly in all different directions, will be very good.
And finally, basically, it's their world. This is the technological age she was born into. We want her to be connected, but just want it to be appropriately done.
Prior to setting up her account, we talked about what would be expected. I found this very helpful article: What Parents Should Know and also this contract which we read through together: online contract
It became very clear as we discussed it that we are very much on the same page about all of it. Still, I felt it would be good to not assume anything and just talk about it all. We also went to some Facebook pages together, ones that I had made a mental note of in the months leading up to this. For example: a profile picture of a girl in a bikini on the beach; conversations between two people posted on a public wall that would be more appropriate sent as private messages; subtle anger directed at an anonymous person when many would clearly see to whom it was directed; careless words like "sexy" tossed about on status updates; reminders that the choices she makes in her posts could affect her employment years later, etc. It was very helpful to have it on the screen in front of her. She got the message.
And so last night, after CC and I came home from our date, I logged in and planned to send her a cute little note on her wall. CC and I were enjoying seeing what she had chosen to explain herself:
Religion? Evangelical Christian.
Inspirational People? Jesus Christ, her parents, her teachers.
Favorite Music? Jamie-Grace, Wynnona (my fault!), Carrie Underwood, Newsboys, TobyMac, Tenth Avenue North.
Books? The Wise Woman, Narnia, Tolkien, Love Comes Softly, Caps For Sale (because her dad read this to her class when she was little).
Movies? The Grace Card, Facing the Giants, Indiana Jones, Fireproof, UP.
Favorite tv? Dr. Quinn, Little House on the Prairie, Christy.
Yep, that's my girl.
So, I'm up for a healthy discussion on comments, even if you don't agree with me. What do you think about Facebook for a teen?