Should my child have a Facebook page?
One of those funny guys on the The Spoodcast podcast asked me this question:
Dr. Matt, at what age should children be allowed to have a Facebook page?
A lot of parents ask these questions as if there might be magical ages when kids should do X, Y, or Z. But let’s get to the magical ages later. First, let’s talk about what I know about Facebook.
My understanding is that the Internets are a series of tubes or pipes, not unlike a water utility. Facebook is like a type of water processing plant for the Internets, where all the water flows through, and then gets dispersed to the masses.
The problem is that usually the water produced by the Facebook plant is either not potable or is potable but has a sulfuric odor and as such, may induce vomiting for some people. Rarely is the water both potable and fresh tasting, as in the case with my Facebook page on the Internets.
Adults have a better chance at being able to determine which category a particular page falls under. I’ve noticed that while even most kids are able to steer clear of the non-potable water, they tend to drink a lot of the sulfuric water, because they a) don’t understand that the water isn’t really all that great, b) don’t know that better water exists, or c) all of the above.
Basically, through our development, the ability to determine what has poor taste improves. This takes a great leap forward when we hit puberty, and seems to take another leap forward in the 18-22 range, with the boys sometimes on the later end, and the girls on the earlier end. However, none of this is universally true, this is why magic ages are stupid.
There is no magic age, so my initial thought upon hearing this question is that when the child is of an age where they are mature enough to have sex (emotionally, not physically), then they would be of a mature enough age to browse the Internets with less restrictions, and also have a Facebook page. Not that there is a direct link between the two, but the Internet tubes often have sexual content, so a certain level of maturity is needed to just go wandering, or interact socially without supervision.
Supervision is another key element. If you’re not okay with your kids going out and getting booty calls, then I would make sure you’re at least on your kid’s friends list, and not in their “People who can’t see what I post” group. (I’d also point out that whether or not you’re “okay” with something is not exactly the determining factor of your child’s maturity. The problem may be you.)
So, they could still have the page, be cool and interact with their friends, but if needed, you might need to eventually step in and say, “That water you’re drinking is probably making you sterile and impotent.”
To ask Dr. Matt a question, stop by his Facebook page.