Thursday, October 07, 2010

Too Young For Facebook

This past Sunday Aisha Sultan, a reporter for St. Louis Post-Dispatch, had an interesting column in the new" Home & Away" section. The column was about young children who have Facebook accounts. In the column, Sultan quotes Doug Terfehr who says his family has found a safe and useful way to merge family and Facebook.

According to Sultan, "Terfer says most of his family lives out of town, so he and his wife created an account for their 7-year-old son a year ago as a way for him to keep in touch with relatives. They post pictures of the kids' special events, and grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins can comment.

"It's almost like getting a letter from grandma and grandpa all the time, " he explained. It was too cumbersome to e-mail photos with attachments and not an interactive experience for the children....

"It works great for us," he said because it gives his children a way to relate to far-flung extended family and develop a relationship with them."

My reaction to all of this is instead of making a Facebook page for your six-year-old (the age of the boy at the time they created the account), why not sit down with him and write a letter with him to the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? Why not have the kid draw a picture showing something he's done to send to grandpa & grandma? Why not actually print off a few of those digital photos for the aunts & uncles so they can frame them? And if everyone wants to keep in touch, why not call them up on the telephone once a month? These things would take just as long as it does to do things "safely" on Facebook, are safer, would be appreciated much more by the relatives, and would be a lot better quality time spent with your child than being online with them.

In short, kids that young don't need to be on the Internet and they definitely don't need a Facebook.

You can read the entire essay here.

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