Baby Facebook: Parental Controls Or No, Kids On Facebook Means Mo’ Problems For Parents

Dear Sweet baby Jesus: Please save the babies from Mark Zuckerberg and the massive time-suck/child molester magnet that is sure to be the so-called “Baby Facebook,” a kid version of the world’s most popular social media site allegedly being conjured up by good ol’ Zuck and the crew.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Facebook is preparing a membership option for children under age 13—a new feature that would allow kids access to the social network with their parents’ permission and supervision. The kids’ accounts would be linked to their parents’ pages, allowing parents to control who their children add as friends and which apps they use.

Of course, a “Baby Facebook” would add, like, a bazillion more users to Facebook’s 900 million user base. And, of course, open the social media giant up to all kinds of advertising and marketing goodness in the lucrative children’s market.

But what, exactly, would giving elementary and tween-aged kids access to Facebook do besides line Mark Zuckerberg’s sensible billionaire hoodie pockets? The glass-is-half-full of us will argue, righteously, that giving kids official access to Facebook with parental controls will help parents teach their kids how to use social media responsibly. After all, studies show that of all the kids on Facebook right now, almost 40% are under age 12—many using fake names to go unchecked onto the site. Getting parents involved will keep the kids out of trouble—or so the argument goes.

But those of us who actually, like, have kids know better. Speaking as the mother of three—one college student, one daughter just days away from becoming a teenager and the third a tween—I can tell you without reservation that allowing kids onto Facebook is nothing more than mo’ social media, mo’ problems for us parents. You’ve got the cyberbullies, the cyber stalkers, the cyber trolls—kids who don’t understand privacy, keeping your dirty laundry off the streets and the ramifications of posting crazy pictures of themselves and foul words about their parents and loved ones on the internet. Having kids on social media is pure mayhem.

And it sucks for us parents.

Our job is to be the buffer between the public and our vulnerable kids; we protect them for as long as we can with a force field until that moment comes when we feel like they’re mature enough and know enough of the lessons they need to step out into the public arena without getting got by Dave the Dopefiend, Chester the Molester, Peeping Tom and all the other scary bastards that, as comical as they may sound in jest, really do exist and stand at the ready to hurt our babies.

Of course keeping our kids away from the scary bastards used to be relatively easier than it is today. With the internet, Dave the Dopefiend and Chester the Molester can creep right into our kids’ rooms, with us sitting right next to them. We got that rude awakening late last month when a dude right down the street from our home was arrested on charges that he used Facebook to lure two boys—ages 13 and 15—to his abandoned home to play video games and then fondled himself in front of them. Turns out the 28-year-old, who portrayed himself as a 16-year-old online, already has a child molestation charge pending.

So… how, exactly, do you teach a 10-year-old who still plays with dolls, is scared of thunder and forgets to brush her teeth how to spot a 28-year-old man pretending to be a 13-year-old girl? What parent is ready for all of that? Need I remind that just last week, Nick Chiles’ wrote right here on MyBrownBaby about a study showing that parents, particularly those in poor households and households of color, are being battered by a digital divide that has their kids riding the internet wave, even as the adults in the house haven’t a clue how to monitor, use or put limits on the computer, phone, internet and social media access their kids enjoy?

It’s overwhelming.

For real, can someone help us here? I don’t know a single, solitary 12-year-old whose life would be bereft of culture and development because she doesn’t have a Facebook page. Why pile on to the woes of the modern-day parent? For the sake of a buck? Who are we helping? What’s the effing point of a Baby Facebook? Besides giving Mark Zuckerberg the personal deets of another half million people so that he can secretly sell their info to marketers and advertisers? For real, if there were any brake pumping to be had, this one is it. Dear Mark: How about you and your lovely bride go make a baby and try raising it before you “help” us parents use social media to raise our own. #ThanksAndAmen.

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2. With Our Kids, Parents Are Fighting a Daily Battle Against the Gadgets
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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

3 Comments

  1. yeah its BAD news im mad zuck is only thinking about his pockets, because what does i child younger that 13 need fb for anyway. they are mostly in school they dont even have a lot of friends i mean little league? I mean i get mad with parents giving their kids cell phones more excuses to be anyway with anyone doing who knows what. anyway it sucks and i think its a BAD idea and more excuses for youngsters to be online which really isnt necessary if you ask me. what for a thesis paper? I dont think so. its dumb and makes parents jobs harder for the parents who dont care about their kids and are sure to cause peer pressure. i hope it fails sorry. everyone you need to know should live in your HOUSe or down the street. thanks.

  2. Woohsah! I am doing some serious meditative breathing over this debacle in the making. I am a parent and a teacher. And I think that I am a pretty on top of it parent and teacher. Our family computeris in the family room where I or my husband can see it from all angles, it is password protected, we have internet safety software, we monitor length of time on the computer and what is accessed. This didn’t keep my son from being a normal, curious boy and accessing something he shouldn’t have been accessing. Last year my 9 year old son learned of Youporn on the playground from a classmate. This same classmate took a picture of this teacher’s rear end, posted it on Facebook with some super disturbing, skeevy message about raping her. Wha?! Huh?! Why?! This child did not need to have a cell phone at school, let alone be allowed to access Facebook on his own (you must be at least 14 to use Facebook without parental consent), and he certainly should not have posted what he posted. All of this leads me to think that adults in his life are letting him have unfettered access to way too much, way too early. In a nutshell he is raising himself.

    I have had students stalk, harass, bully, badger, threaten, and in general act a dang fool on the interwebz. They are not capable at young ages of making the right decisions when on the internet and schools and parents are falling down on the job teaching them about the great things to be found via the internet as well as the very real and dangerous ills of it. I love technology and the internet, but it is a huge open door into our homes and schools. And there often are no doormen to enthusiastically usher in the great stuff and emphatically keep out the unwanted stuff. I as a grown woman have had strange people- both male and female, contact me on the internet.I was a bit shocked and to be honest a little afraid at one point. Imagine a child being contacted by some stranger up to no good!

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