My kid will be 10 in a month and I let him have a Facebook account.
Technically, it's my account that I let him use since he is under the age requirement.
I realize that this is a big debate with parents. It was not an easy decision to come to but after years of seeing what my younger family members have been posting - I wanted to be able to teach him before he got to the age where I'm wrong and he knows more.
Convincing Him to Try It
He's a good kid. He originally told me no when I asked if he wanted to try it out.
Yes, it was my idea - not his - but like I said, I have a lot of younger family members on Facebook and I cringe when I read and see the things they share. Hell, thanks to the Facebook memory updates, many of my early Facebook posts are cringeworthy.
I wanted to be able to discuss with him how to use social media as a positive tool to communicate with friends and family; even companies responsibly. I want to show him all the ways that people use and misuse social media so he can, hopefully, make better choices.
Teaching Kindness - on and offline
I also want him to practice kindness on and off the internet so I downloaded Kindness Wins.
I've followed Galit Breen's blog for several years and can't imagine anyone else writing this how-to for raising Generation Z. It's not because I can't teach him, or my daughter, to be kind or that they aren't kind to being with but I don't always have the right words to express what I need them to know.
Besides helping me to teach them, I've learned w-a-y more about social media with tweens and teens that I had no idea was out there! Did you know they make a best friend list in their profile and ask to be rated or for TBH comments?!?
Once he was on board with using Facebook, because a few of his friends are also online, we talked about it before I set it up. I let him use my account to look at what my friends were sharing. Some things made him turn red with embarrassment, other things he didn't get and didn't want to understand, but most things made him giggle.
He questioned why some things were shared which made for some really uncomfortable conversations. He just wants to share his Sims with his friends. Thankfully, the majority of what he saw in my feed was positive, but I've also unfollowed and hid those who are negative, mean or post things that I'm uncomfortable seeing especially if I held them as babies.
I struggle with celebrating the feminine and sexuality when I see a barely 21-year-old I know sharing way more of herself than I'd like to see. So, I chose not to see it. That said - I'm showing my kids as an example of what not to do on social media.
It Takes a Community
I also discovered something unexpected, parents of the friends who followed my kid friended him on Facebook. I figured our family members would but not other parents. I also accepted friend requests from his friends. We now have a community online to look out for our kids.
It's Here to Stay
Social media is everywhere and is not going away anytime soon. By taking charge of how my kids are exposed to it, I'm betting on them becoming better users. I can't guarantee it, but I'm hoping that I will be able to foster a better understanding on how to behave online.