Facebook, Teens, Privacy and the end of COPPA

Recently I wrote about why I won’t be friending my children on Facebook and the rules of our house. I wrote about why kids don’t need adult friends online and access to our children.

The backlash was swift and severe. People just don’t agree with me and, as usual, I’m totally okay with that.

I have one suggestion for y’all while reading my blog. Understand that this is one document written by one woman. I’m not a lawmaker or a teacher at your child’s school. There’s a very good chance that I’m not even your neighbor. So before you get angry and offended that I’ve likened friending your child on Facebook to helicopter parenting take a breath and think about why I might have struck a nerve. If it doesn’t apply to you, move on.

In any event if your teen is on Facebook it’s the end of COPPA for you. Your children officially have identities that are being bought and sold. This is the price of free. I’m not saying it’s good or bad. I’m just saying the sky is blue and my daughter’s data is being bought and sold. It’s a big and profitable business.

Now, for those of you who got very upset with me on G+ and Facebook and told me that I was a horrible negligent mother because I don’t friend my daughter on Facebook I’d like to talk to you about some other ways you can effectively parent your children though the murky waters of social media.

You can sit with your children and go on Facebook with them. Point at the kids and say, ooh isn’t that Leah from Pre K? My daughter loves looking at everyone’s pictures and giving me updates on the kids, their lives, schools, camps and sports. It’s nice spending real time with kids.

You can be your child’s admin. This can take many forms from spot checking to screen sharing. When Jane was setting up her Facebook account she was upstairs on her computer and I was in my office with a computer set to screen share. She knew I had to see how she was setting the site up but she also knew she had to be supervised. Screen share is an AMAZING tool during the week for homework when two kids are asking for your help and you have just one working printer. It’s only creepy spying if your kids don’t know you’re using it… which is frankly just fine at younger ages.

You can add your child’s logon to your devices and check in periodically. You can parent 80 gazillion ways and do so very effectively.

What you cannot do is expect to see your child on Facebook and have a complete picture of who they are. Pay attention to them at home, at school, in the company of friend and, yes, on Facebook too. Parents aren’t “finding out” that their kids are depressed from social networks, parents are finding out that their kids are depressed/anxious/afraid/happy/successful from parenting.

Hopefully your child has been on the internet with you a lot and knows not to give away a ton of personal information. Don’t fill our family trees, enter home addresses, fan their school, friend anyone they haven’t met in real life… there’s a very long list.

Sitting with your child in front of a screen full of their peers might bring about interesting discussions like, “Oh I didn’t know she was a bikini model, that’s an interesting after school activity for a 14 year old.” or “Why don’t you spend more time with Hannah? She’s really turned into a sweet girl.”

Your children (and all of us) will enter too much data. It’s what we do, it’s a mistake everyone makes (expect my brother who could put the NSA to shame). Recently I hosted a luncheon for MyInfoGuardian.com and a few friends. Here are some great posts about how to get your information (and your child who is now sharing) off the internet.

Mamavation is giving away subscriptions…. HURRY!

JoAnn is not quite sure why anyone should worry.

Kim got chills when she saw the information that was being bought and sold around her identity.

Sarah makes a great point about changing passwords (and no “password” is NOT a password)

Romy reminds us that simply registering to vote releases our data.

Julie talks about dating and cybersecurity, something every man and woman should think of. 

Daphne has a great post about how much of her info is out there and mentions the money they lost to Maddoff

Facebook Comments

  • Arina

    Great post!  I fully agree with you.  It is important to trust the kids but also to supervise them.  Kids need to know that we respect their privacy but at the same time we, as parents, have duty to supervise.   

    Arina @kidismart

  • http://www.skirt.com/charlene-ross Charlene Ross

    Jessica, I couldn’t agree with you more. I am not friends with my son on Facebook (and will not be friends with my daughter when she turns 13). I’m also not friends with my nieces or any other children. I find it inappropriate and quite frankly there’s a snarky side of me the kids in my life don’t really need to see.

    I do however have my son’s password and check-in periodically to see what’s up. My son quickly became bored with Facebook and it’s never really been an issue. I know it will be entirely different with my daughter when she finally gets her FB page (all she wants in this world, but she has to wait another year and a half). That girl has no impulse control and is already boy crazy and somewhat sassy. I can foresee her FB privileges being taken away multiple time in her teenage future -I don’t look forward to it- but it all comes with the joy of parenting right?