Thursday, March 15, 2012

the one where i found out my kid is on facebook.

Last Friday afternoon I took a break from the primary school swimming sports and went up the street to get a coffee. Walking up the hill I bumped into friends from our valley who I hadn't seen since for ages. We caught up quickly and as I started walking off they called out to me 'We loved the video of Pepper singing that Adele song on facebook!'


I am not on facebook.

As far as I knew, no one who lives in my house is on facebook.

So how on earth did a video of Pepper singing get onto facebook?

And then it hit me. INDI!

I asked them if it had been on Indi's account (in as unwobbly a voice as I could muster.) They weren't certain but their kids are all on facebook so they assumed Indi was too.


I walked off feeling like I'd been punched. Like my little girl had snuck out of our quiet little farm and headed off to Chapel street on a Saturday night. Where was my baby who let me dress her in my creations and who told me all her secrets? How could she have kept something like this from me? She's only 11.

And then after I worked myself up into a frenzy, there was the second guessing. Was this a big deal? If all the other kids are on facebook, then am I overreacting? And biggest of all, how come she hadn't told us????

In the end we discussed it with her over dinner. She said she'd joined up the weekend before at a friend's place. She said she had intended to talk to us about it but hadn't gotten around to it. She thought we might say no. She said ALL her friends are on facebook. She said she is only facebook friends with her real life friends. She said she understood that she can no longer put images of her sisters on there without our permission. She agreed that I will join and that we will be friends there so I can see. She promised not to be part of and to report any negative behaviour. She told us a few of her friends have had their accounts deleted by their parents because of swearing this week.

She also agreed to let me post this blog as a record.

So here we stand, on the cusp of the big wide world of pre-teen-hood. Basically making it up as we go along. Trying to pick our battles, trying to keep the lines of communication wide open, trying to stay relevant, but also trying to set boundaries and keep her farmy and a bit childish too.

Man, I look forward to having more confidence and experience with this the second and third times around.



  1. I'm not looking forward to my two growing up at all

  2. Oh Kate, that's a big one! Sounds like you've handled it beautifully, very wise being 'fb friends' with her too. I do hope it all becomes a whole lot easier second & third time round. Everything our first does is a first for us as parents too. Huge learnings, HUGE!..xx

  3. Hey Kate, I am constantly looking over my boys shoulders at their facebooking activities, I am sure it must annoy them, but I don't have an account and they probably wouldn't want to friend me anyway! So far it is only my older 2 my 11 yr old doesn't seem interested at the moment, so i will see how long that lasts. I find it quite a good way to bring up behaviours that i think aren't that great and talk to them about what we expect from them etc, also it 's a good way to keep in touch with what the current generation of teenagers/kids are up to, it seems to be a big part of a lot of kids social lives. I have noticed my 16 yr old is on it less now, so it could be something that they lose interest in over time. You can only do what feels right for you and your family, and go with it! Have a great day!! Julie x

  4. Oh wow Kate it's hard sometimes being a parent in this world of ours. It sounds like you handled things beautifully under the circumstances, with respect for Indi. It is a challenging time, working out how much to give and how much to hold on to. I know the feeling my oldest is 13 this year, she'll be an adult in 5 short years I'm slowly learning to let go, only just. Life is always interesting with children isn't it!:) Take care. xx

  5. I am stressed. My eldest is 6 and my work involves spending hours on facebook at time. Facebook is such a tool for good and evil.

    In my limited work discussions and research of 'risk management' for protecting kids on facebook, it seems you are doing all the right things. (Other than that little bit about facebook having a rule that you must be 13 to have a page).

    The risks are when kids start playing around with gadgets and things, so say one lovely little friend changes your daughter from "friend" to "Acquaintance" and only shares her messages with friends. It is a deliberate ploy by bullies to exclude someone from a conversation. It seems such a minor thing, could be said to be an accident, but little girls are easily hurt and when school is finished, facebook follows them home.

    But for all the parents that close pages down, if a child has access to the internet, they will find another page to call their own, but this time, they will make sure Mum and Dad don't find out about it.

    Ensure you know her password - even make it one that only you know, then she needs to get you to log in to facebook when she wants to use it - but as I said, I don't have a big girl and I have no idea how this would work in reality.

    Will be keen to see how it all goes, research for 5 years time!

    1. Yes, I thought the minimum age for FB was 13 too. That's why many primary schools have blocked it because their students aren't 13 until high school.

  6. My daughter was 11 when she asked if she could join Facebook because all her friends were on it. We let her, with the provisio that her dad and I were her friends (which is the only reason I signed up). She played around on it before she, and most of her friends, became bored. They became bored because they were 11. She ended up using it only to stay in touch with family and friends interstate and overseas, rather thank friends who she saw at school anyway. The original reason they all wanted to sign up was because there were games you could play on Facebook. To an 11 year old it became just another site rather than the tool that it actually is. She's only reengaged with it after seeing the Kony 2012 video.

    In my experience, she and her close friends were the biggest police on there, reporting if a classmate swore or said something they didn't like. She learnt to talk to us about that and she would remove anyone from her friends list that she thought was inappropriate (and that's inappropriate in a small way, not something horrific).

    Our daughter's 13 now, and our experience has been fine so far (with quite a bit of angst at the beginning). Hope yours is too.

    By the way, you have to be 13 to create an account so she would've had to fudge her age somewhere along the way. I'd make sure the made-up year isn't visible as you wouldn't want someone thinking she's much older than she is.

  7. That's it. I'm so not going to let bubba Joe grow up... I think I'll stop feeding him food when he turns two & just give him milk to keep him a baby.....

  8. Bloody hell!! Next thing you'll be taking her bedroom door off the hinges cause she has a fella!!

  9. And so it begins, my friend... x

  10. Oh my! You handled it well. but we don't want them to grow up, I just want to keep mine in a glass bubble and protect them from the world...which I cannot do. We have to let them go.

  11. After you get over the obvious posts on facebook it is the chatting that goes on that you need to keep an eye on. Unfortunately mobile phones allow kids to use the page away from the public rooms of the house. The chats cannot be recalled that I know of either so all sorts of secrets can be shared and missed on by parents who are trying to keep track of their childrens thoughts. Cherrie

  12. I think you handled it well. My kids aren't at that stage yet, but I think monitoring it is a good idea. Banning it might just make them more likely to do it in secret and become more obsessed with the idea of keeping secrets etc.

  13. Well done, I think you have handled this as well as you could. Great idea to join up yourself to keep an eye on things. I have a friend who posts on her kids wall often enough that the friends know she keeps tabs, which in turn helps them keep it appropriate; I think this is a good idea and plan to do that myself when the time comes.

  14. Yes, this is a tricky one! My 10 and 12-year old niece are on facebook. Myself and other family members keep an eye on them as best we can, but the little monkeys have worked out that they can message their friends and talk about goodness knows what without us seeing it. The only solution to that one is some random quality control checks if you know their password. Seems a bit crazy and controlling right? But the bad stories out there re; bullying are frightening. So I guess the best thing we can do is talk, talk, talk about things - friends, school etc... and hope they keep wanting to talk to us in return and let us know how they are feeling. Good luck!!

  15. I allowed my 14yr old daughter to join FACEBOOK after 3 yrs of begging. The only requirement was that I had to be one of her friends. That way (I thought) I'd be able to see everything she posted and everything that was posted to her- in other words, I could 'keep her safe' by monitoring her use. Little did I know, much of the communication that goes on with facebook is via personal messages, that can only be read by the sender and the recipient, much like an email... which is ok, unless the messaging is with someone they don't know very well (or you don't know at all).
    Watch it closely, I say. I don't like it and it can become addictive. Be sure to monitor your Indy's usage...
    On the other hand, it is kinda fun and if it helps them fit in/stay in touch with friends, it can't be alllllllll bad. Can it????

  16. facebook + kids freaks me out. the social pressure must be insane for them.
    your daughter is gorgeous and has two wonderful parents, don't assume the worst or disregard the effort, love and relationship you've been building these last 11 years.
    you got this!

  17. oops!! one of my granddaughters did that last year..I actually thought they had to be 13 now ( I know it used to be 15) she had to delete her account and isn't allowed to join again until she's actually 13..!!! I have nothing against FB, I've been a member for years now and I have grandies on there too, I think the thing is that you have to have their passwords, that way they know you can check up on what's going on, even with the messaging, at that age I think it's important...!

  18. This parenting business is a minefield...good luck Kate x

  19. You are a very wise Mum and handled this situation beautifully. It is so very hard letting our kids make forays into a world that we don't have control over, especially in what is potentially a very public space. Good on you for joining Facebook. It doesn't hurt your daughter or her friends to know that you are around to cast an eye over things. Good luck.
    Anne xx

  20. Hey Kate, all the best with the teenage years and all that they is a balancing act and the first child always seems to be the 'guinea pig'. So glad my one and only has passed through that stage although I still worry about him and he's 21 next month!!!

    Some very wise words in amongst the other comments. particularly about the personal messaging and passwords.........
    Keeping track of time spent on the computer or using mobile phones might be an idea too.......
    Being open and honest with your children is one of the most important things, good luck guys.

    Claire :}

  21. Only today my 10 year old asked at what age he was going to be allowed on facebook....eeeeeh...scary thought.

  22. We are all shocked in a way or another with the 'discoveries' about our first child, then we relax, we get used, I do not know. We go on protecting them, but staying in the back.
    It is SO good that you could discuss all this, till the channel of comunicationis open, it is not that bad. Good luck!

  23. I've got a big girl & I don't like fb, the rubbish that goes on in that space or the bloke who set the whole thing up.

    We could speak about this for hours if you like but I actually think it's pretty bad for self esteem whether you're one of the "it" girls or not. It's a no win situation as far as I can tell.

    I'd like to cut it off & I'm going to make the little guy wait longer than he'd like to.

    Good luck. x

  24. I don't do facebook (or stalkerbook as some call it) it sounds like a boring lot of rot to me. Don't people spend all day updating their status or whatever it's called? 'Trying on my new shoes now'; 'Going to the loo now' etc etc... gawd, I'd rather clean out the chookhouse!

    I sympathise with you but in the photos I see Miss 11 with a mobile phone...couldn't she be texting and messaging and facebooking or whatever it is you do on mobiles?

    I know, I know, I don't like mobiles either and yes, yes, I'm having counselling :-)

  25. I remember when we were at high school, you know, back in the day prior to facebook. We had a note books that got passed amongst a few of us, that we wrote letters to each other in - full of secrets, complaints about teachers, our latest crushes, plans for the weekend and song lyrics. And I'm pretty sure it's the kind of stuff we would have been writing on facebook if it had been around. :)

  26. Isabelle is on facebook and has been for quite a while. We look at who her friends are, and I check in on her page on a regular basis. Most of her friends are from dancing or school, but the swearing bit hasnt come into yet thank goodness. I am sure if you keep an eye on it Kate it should be okay, just beware of who she befriends and what they post on their fb pages.

  27. And makes sure everything is private, so only her friends see things, not strangers. I don't think you can stop it, but you obviously let her know somehow it wasn't appropriate or she would have asked first! Definitely not (over)reacting to her face will probably make her trust you a bit more in the future? Cos you want her to know she's trusted too, right? xxoo

  28. That is huge! Indi is lucky to have parents like you. My son is 12 and i'm expecting a similar conversation soon. I hope i handle it as gracefully as you xxx

  29. I was just thinking about when I was eleven. I'm pretty sure I would have wanted to be on Facebook. My first year in high school, wanting to fit in, wanting to be noticed by boys... Oh imagine how wonderful it would'be been to have a crush on a boy and be their facebook friend... You could look at their photo like all the time. In my day you had to steal glimpses and then use your imagination when day dreaming your future life together.
    Did you keep stuff from your mama and dad? I sure did... I think it is natural. I don't think you should take it personally and I think it sounds like you handled it all really gracefully.
    Facebook is like being in public so aunts, grandparents and the like should be friends too.

  30. My big girl is turning 7 this week. I can't imagine that in only 4 years shes gonna wanna be on facebook too! This parenting gig is a tough one, I am taking notes.

  31. I love how you handled it!! I have a preteen too and starting to see all these things as well.. now Im off to check if she on facebook.. Lol

  32. My daughter did exactly the same thing ! Honestly I could have died I was so hurt . She was banned and had to delete the account after I went through the whole lot . 3 years later she is now 14 and I have just allowed her back on . I have her password and she has to be friends with her mother , how embarassing !
    Teen and preteen girls make you smile but make you go grey early too . xxx

  33. I worry already about my missy and social media... and she's only going to be 2 next week! Anyway, I booked marked the following article as I thought it made lots of sense and that it might come in handy some day, and I thought it might help you too:
    I love your blog by the way, it's one of my absolute favs - so thank you! :)

  34. oh so tricksy but your response sounds really spot on. There is also the fact that that girl-child seems to be a saavy and talented photographer who want to explore a variety of mediums. I've got ten bucks on her becoming bored with it in a couple of months. Much love and well done you for being thoughtful, relevant and understanding. xx

  35. I just had this discussion with my students (10 and 11 years old) Just make sure you check her privacy settings....You want to set them to "Friends only" Otherwise pretty much anyone can see her page...

  36. Oh i dunno, can I act like a child instead of the adult (and parent!) that I am and say 'what's the big deal?'. I know it's scary to feel like your little one is growing up and out of your control but don't we want to raise strong, independent, intelligent women? I know it backfired for my mum!! Plus, you get to blog all about your family and I doubt your girls get to proof read the posts before they are published. Just playing devils advocate here...
    I think you did the right thing though, talking to her about it and being involved in the process and laying some ground rules. good call there. I think you will find that your lovely, sweet, intelligent girls will have the self confidence they need to get through the ups and downs on life. that's all we can do right, instill in them good self esteem and ethics and off they go, taking it with them as they make life decisions!
    well that's my 2 cents anyway.
    oh, and I would so love to see a video of miss pepper singing adele! cute!!

  37. Be assured Kate that you are more confident with your second and third. My girls are 23, 21 and 16 and they are good kids. You are doing the right thing being friends with them to monitor their use...I am friends with all 3 of mine! Good luck I am sure all will be fine xxx

  38. Oh boy, this is just frightfully grownup stuff isn't it. Give me a toddler tantrum over hair washing, choice of undies, refusal to eat breakfast.... any day.You sound like you handled it very well. melx

  39. Welcome to the club Kate !!!

    The one where you will constantly feel like you've been punched in the face! and the one where you will constantly be told that your daughter is the 'only' one of her friends that can't do this, can't go there, haven't got one of get my drift!!

    With a 9 year old and an 11 year old (both girls!) in the house I think that I am going to have to toughen's hard accepting that you can't control what they are doing all the just have to hope you've instilled them with your values so they make the right choices .....oh it's a minefield!!

    Fleur xx

  40. OOFF Kate, that's a big one.
    and as usual sounded like you handled it beautifully.
    good luck out there.
    PS if Jazzy or Indi are anything like me, my sister was a total nightmare teenager, and I saw what it did to mum and dad so i was the best most well behaved good teenager because I didn't want to make them cross.

  41. Oh, blimey.

    I've already voiced to the Mr that any social 'ishews' or learning difficulties coming from the third kid are to be strictly ignored. In the meanwhile, hold on tight for that ride...

  42. Doesn't it just tie your stomach in knots when you discover they are keeping secrets from you? I have an 11 y.o. girl too, who wants desperately to be on FB. I have told her not until she goes to high school, which seems to have satisfied her. My 14 y.o. son is on there and he had to friend me. There's a bit of swearing in the chat, but nothing harmful. But it's different with girls (mine, anyway), and I will be much more worried about her than I am about him. I think you handled the situation with Indi very well.

  43. Kate, I completely understand your concern. I have 3 children, oldest about to turn 10 & are fearful of the day they will want facebook. My concern for you is that it was my understanding that you are supposed to be 13 to set up a facebook account without a parent. How did Indi & her friends all get around this? I suppose it is super easy (not knowing a thing about facebook myself), but there is a trust issue to be concerned about. Good Luck with everything.

  44. Emily and I have been up front about all of this sort of stuff. I am her friend on facebook - and I have been ever since she started her account.
    I thought you had to be over 13 or 14 to sign up - but I guess there is no control for this.
    I think facebook is like anything else in life - you need to make your kids aware of the good points and the bad points - what to look out for and how to be safe. Open and honest communication will make both your lives easier.

  45. Okay, no facebook account or mobile yet for our 11 year old but Ayden's whole social life is planned through facebook and has been since he was about 15. It really is important for kids socially but I hope Callum can wait until he is maybe 13. Will see

  46. Re monitoring, I think being her friend is a great idea. But be mindful as Anonymous said, contact can be carried out over private messages.
    Strangely people who are not your friends can contact you via private message, it rarely happens and is likely to be spam, but I would make her aware of what she should/should not do if someone she doesn't know try to make contact with her.

  47. You are nicer than me. My 13 yo regularly coments on my evilness at not letting her join Facebook.

  48. I think you did a great job! You were fair and controlled and gave her trust without allowing her to do what she wants.

  49. Ahhh I am THE first generation of sneaky internet undertakings before my parents had any concept of Myspace/MSN Messenger (haha way before the days of Facebook!) I dunno... I just liked flirting with boys I suppose... Sigh. Some girls will find ways to do what they want, no matter what the rules are. But your relationship with your daughter sounds fantastic, and like she's not about sneaky undertakings at all. So trust and love will get you through the next few years very well indeed :-)

  50. Oh gosh, I always find posts like these really hard to comment on, so usually I steer clear. We all do things differently, who wants to cause offence with a dissenting voice, not me. But I've seen the damage facebook can do to kids much older than Indi.

    All we bloggers know how easy it is to 'hear' in the written word things not intended by the 'speaker', and our feelings and more importantly our confidence are so easily bruised when young. And the nasty stuff is often of the most unexpected kind. My model slim teenage daughter was made miserable by facebook posts gossiping about her supposed anorexia ... in fact, just like her father, she simply has a mega fast metabolism, she's not skinny, just healthily slim and naturally slight. In the end we solved the problem by arranging for the girls to all go camping together so her 'friends' could see the vast quantities of food she actually eats! But then a lovely young man in the US contacted us, via my facebook account, to warn us that her picture was being circulated by a bunch of college kids in Alabama, one of whom was the pen friend of our daughter's best friend's brother. The image in question was taken on a beach holiday with her best friend's family and showed our daughter bikini clad and sunbathing. Obviously the friend had posted the holiday photos quite innocently. Only you can know if your daughter has the maturity to deal with stuff like this if it happens to her, but if it were me I'd be protecting her from the possibility for as long as I possibly can. My kids joined facebook at 16, that was quite soon enough.

  51. I hear you! very very similar things happened here this week. Sprung! I wasn't asked permission and discovered the account was opened in the middle of last year!!! After a number of deep breathing exercises, I've chosen to go with the flow. He can keep it going so long as I, and some other family and adults we know are accepted by him as 'friends'. A very close friend who is a teacher and worked in high schools for many years, did warn me it is one of the most common forms of bullying now, so we must remain vigilant. Good luck at your end! Jane x

  52.'s only facebook....Kate your an amazing mother who is making beautiful choices regarding your children....I think it would be lovely for some mothers to not take life so seriously at times....the children appreciate and will open up to less serious parents...your doing great :-))))

  53. I don't think you need to stress too much. Our kids all have a facebook page, I signed up so that I could be their "friend" and keep an eye on things to a degree. My kids use it to talk to their stepsister when she is at her mum's. Primarily my boys use it to play the games, to them it is just another game site more than anything. The older boys use it to share photos with their friends and "chat" particularly in school holidays. The one that spends too much time on it would be my stepdaughter, she has just turned 13 and is Justin Bieber crazy. She chats to friends and is constantly commenting and "liking" Bieber pages. On the up side though, it also allows her to communicate with her family interstate and also over in New Zealand, that is a good thing as if it weren't for Facebook she certainly would never get to "talk" to them at all.
    I think it is just a sign of the times and as long as you are sensible and instil good values into your kids, which is what you do anyway, they will be fine. We can't shelter our kids from everything and as long as you have a good relationship with your children then there shouldn't be too many problems. I think the problems come more from families who just don't care and the kids are always going behind their parents backs, rather than from families who have a trusting and open relationship.
    You are doing a great job Kate and Indi seems like a sensible girl. Don't worry too much about it, its just kids being kids today.

  54. I'm a primary school teacher, almost all the kids in year 5/6 have accounts. That being said, the terms of service are that they have to be 13 or in high school to have an account, whichever comes first. For a primary school aged kid to have an account, they have to lie about their age. For that reason, any kid I teach that I see has an account through my Facebook page, I report. The kids all know this and they are aware that I won't search for them - but if they are seen.......

  55. eek to parenting teens in a world of were a whole other online world exsists! big ups to you and the way you handled this with discussion and reasoning and vigilance. im taking note to one day do as good a job of making up theses skills as i go along when my turn comes x

  56. oh Kate! its tricky isn't it. veda is 13 and i've found it got realllly crazy for awhile-hormones i guess....but now she has settled down again. a lot of the time its all about fitting in. i read somewhere that parenting teen girls is like walking through a mine field. its a horrible analogy but it really seems quite appropriate a lot of the time hehe.....stay strong and hold on tight sweet girl x

  57. Oh, it does get so tricky doesn't it? My eldest turns ten next week, and we haven't faced this yet (I don't think any of his friends are no FB), though the pressure to buy him a DS, let him play games on our iPhones, and watch (what we consider) inappropriate tv and movies is unrelenting.

    I hope we can keep the open conversation going as he gets older as you are. When they're little it's hard to believe they will ever be at this point, but the teenage years are now looking all too real to me!

  58. Thought you might like to see my family on a video we were in for safer internet day. The internet and preteens just scares the bejesuses out of me, I have an 11 yr old too, no Facebook for her yet.

  59. I really appreciate your honesty about this much information on babies and toddlers, so little on tweens. We are struggling with all the same things. Hope you get to do some of the things you are looking forward to this weekend. For us, it is time to get chopping chopping chopping, firewood of course!

  60. Wow you have touched a common chord with us all here.....ours is thirteen but we are not a facebook family so hoping to down play the whole interest for a while longer...
    I begrudge the world poking it's head in to our family before we are ready. xxxxx
    Have a lovely weekend.

  61. Hi Kate,
    I am somewhat "out the other side" of this particular conundrum since my daughter is now 17, but i can promise you that in a year or two this incident will be the least of your worries! Kidding, but also not. Parenting teenage girls (and boys, I imagine, though I haven't had one) is definitely a minefield and i agree with the sentiment that parenting is a bittersweet joy; you have these babies because you love them to pieces and just want to keep them close but it is in their nature to grow more apart from you each day - what a cruel irony! I laud your efforts to negotiate with your daughter about this, and establish some mutually-agreed upon boundaries as i do think that hard and fast rules invite rebelliousness. When my daughter was 11, her grandparents thought it was okay to gift her a cellphone without my approval. Even though it was essentially so they could keep in closer contact with her I was livid! Turned out my worries were mostly unfounded, as none of her friends even had cellphones so she had no one to communicate with!
    I think the best advice for parents is to try and instill confidence, commonsense and, dare I say it, assertiveness in our children so that they will not become easy prey for bullies. As much as we think we might not like our children to have their own strong opinions, it actually is of huge benefit to us and them when they begin to go out into the world as they know their own minds well and will always stand up for themselves. Having a self-determined daughter like Indi might seem scary now, but it should also be of comfort to you that she will carve her own path in adulthood and not be easily swayed by others - phew!. Finally, when confronted with the shock of my baby growing up and the desire to keep her safe at all times, I try and have faith that I have done the best possible job to parent her prior to now. I figure that if I fret and fuss over her too much then I am unwittingly giving her the message that a) I don't really think my parenting skills are that hot and b) I don't trust her to make sound decisions - what a blow to her self-esteem that would be! Ultimately I want my daughter to know that I trust her so that she feels confident to go out into the world with her mothers blessing rather than condemnation (although just secretly I still get all quivery inside when she goes out socialising, she is a teenage girl after all). This means our lines of communication are always open so that when she encounters something new or scary (such as excessive use of alcohol at parties) she feels she can discuss it with me in a non-threatening way. Clearly you are a very concerned and conscious parent, Kate, and this can only be a good thing for your daughters as instilling unconditional love in your children is the best way to prepare them for our world. Keep up the fantastic work!

  62. Oh I have all that to come too. My boys want to be on Minecraft all the time and then join in on the server. I do worry because I am not very computer savvy. Sounds like you have handled it really well and without tears (yours I mean), you are a great mum! Lots of different opinion here also :-)

  63. I have a 10 year old and we are not going to Facebook land for her anytime soon. We are also not going to iphone land either. She doesn't need them. She has a horse to talk to and a brother to play with! What more could she want!

  64. I hate to post things sounding like a do gooder. There is a reason why it has been determined that kids should be at least 13 to have a facebook account. Might be worth thinking about. I think it is ok to say no, but that is just me. It it a tough stage to be going through and I wish they came with manuals. My 13 yo prefers a skype account to talk directly to her real friends. It is attached to our account so that there is always the possibility to read their conversations. She left it open recently and I found a friend of hers using the work Nigger. My daughter had no idea of the meaning of this word and after putting it in context, we watch The Help as a family.

  65. OMG what a parenting moment. My heart would drop to my stomach too. My son has only mentioned wanting to join once. I am not even on it. Sounds like you handled it so well. Gosh this teenage thing is tricky. Thanks for sharing this.

  66. Oh lordy.. I have a 11 week old and I'm already terrified about how to negotiate the world of social media when the time comes. Especially as her dad is such a computer geek. Oh dear... SOunds like you're doing a really good job though. x

  67. Hi Kate,
    I've been thinking about this post since I read it. First of all I'd like to say that I've been there of course, and I feel for you and every other parent who finds their child has done this. It's like a punch in the stomach. Also I want to say that, it sounds like you've handled it amazingly. I just want to mention that I think you have to be 14 to have a facebook account. If you have one before there, it means you have falsified your date of birth. There are lots of reasons why I think that is a great idea. As you know Kate I have two teenagers so far and am planning on parenting teenagers for 22 years without a break, so I've given a lot of thought to things like this.

    I use every method I can to interact with my teens, including facebook, twitter, instagram, email and text. Many is the time I have been able to text them a word of encouragement or put straight a conversation that got heated. I feel that it is important to communicate with them in a way they feel familiar with. My teens went to a technology rich school and so that was how they communicated the best. It has worked for us.

    Having said that, Reuben and Annie are on the waiting list for Steiner and I think our communication will be different, but that is ok too.

    I have to tell you, and anyone else reading this, that it breaks my heart over and over how my teens and others I care about portray themselves on facebook. Even though I tell them over and over that it is important and it never goes away, they really don't get it. I don't want to tell other parents how to parent, but I think putting it off till 14 is the best thing you can do, the longer the better. Also you must monitor them and their friends daily to keep up with what they are going on about. You would not believe the stuff I find out from Facebook. I have it on my phone for just that reason and check it very regularly. It's not so bad now that they are not at school, but still... you know :(

    I hope you don't mind this very long comment, I hope I haven't made it more complicated :(
    Parenting teens has lots of fun moments where you get to share life, but also sprinkled about are very hard times where you must search your heart to know the right answer. I definitely don't have all the answers, but I'm five years into it....

    Love and hugs deb xxx

    1. Sorry just to clarify, I think it's a good idea that you have to be 14, not a good a idea to falsify.

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    I guess it doesn't have to be bad.......and as parents of kids growing up in an age where SOOOOO much stuff is as new to us it is to them I think this is what is so scary.
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    I think that is what we are left thinking. How the heck do we do this?
    Well kate.....just the same way as you have done with all other other aspects of your parenting- openly, lovingly and intuitively......and yes a whole lot of making it up as we go!.
    you are probably so bored of me & my contracts....but they so work for our family.
    if anything my checking up on my eldest every now & then gives me heart that he makes good sensible decisions & that when he slips he will....I will be there to support him.

  69. My feeling is we'll wait until 13, but I think your approach has much wisdom to it - seems very well thought out, and since you know your child best, I reckon it's a good approach! My eldest (9) has friends on Facebook already, which just seems like... madness. We'll see how we go in a few more years. Right now the answer is "nope", but clearly things get more complicated, hey?

    Just an interesting (to me, at least) aside: all my cousins went to Steiner schools, and they're all on Facebook and all teenagers right now, and they are almost _never_ on there! Like maybe once a week or every 2 weeks. Just another indication we need fewer, not more, computers in school, if you ask me ;-)

  70. My son is 12 and I'm holding off - all of his friends are on it too but he seems okay with it for now. He will have his entire life for that stuff.

  71. I have just read this post with great interest, my daughter, 10, has asked to go onto Facebook because quite a few of her friends are on Facebook. So we sat down and had a look and she is right they are. Now I know and she knows that you are not supposed to have a Facebook account until you are 13, this leaves me wondering do their parents know. Then looking into the subject further I discovered that one parent actually creates her childrens facebook account when they are babies and they have access to these accounts from about 6/7 (way too young). I have told my daughter to give it another year and we will discuss it again.
    It does not help that she lives here with 4 adults and we all have facebook and twitter accounts. Two of the adults are her brothers at 18 and 22 and to her it seems like they have always had Facebook and it seems a little unfair, but when she was little they were old enough.
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