First let me say that I am no “expert” on Facebook. I am just a mom, like you. But if you and I were having coffee together and the topic of teens and Facebook came up, there are a few things that I have learned that I would share with you, because I know that you, like me, are an intentional mom and would want to be smart when it comes to your kids and their well-being. As I wrote out my list, I realized I had A LOT to say – too much for one post. So I will be posting one point a day for the next couple of weeks. Obviously, this series of posts is not going to be a comprehensive list of everything a wise mom needs to know about Facebook, but just the things that stand out to me as very important. Also, Facebook is an ever-changing place, so if you’re reading this anytime after November, 2011, the detailed information may not even be accurate anymore, but some will still be helpful. My hope is that you will “share” these posts and pass them along to every mom you know, so that we can all keep our sweet kiddos safe and help them navigate through the murky waters of social media.
So here we go!
1. Facebook might be great for some teens, but could be very unhealthy for some others. Although it seems to be a reality we need to accept, you can say no to Facebook and be perfectly fine, but be prepared for a battle. If your teen wants to be on Facebook, my suggestion is you really get to know it and know your teen and decide if it is something that will help them or hinder them. For example, for some teens it can be a great way to build community and friendships with people they don’t see as often, like the people in their youth group at church, for example. For social teens and those that are mature and have good friendships, it can be an enhancement for them. However, if your teen is likely to suffer with feelings of insecurity and being left-out, you might think twice about Facebook, or at the very least have a discussion about the negative side of being on Facebook. That is; they will find out about parties, sleepovers, and get-togethers that they were not invited to. For some teens, this is no big deal, but for others it can lead to depression and insecurity. Another important thing to discuss is that people portray the best, most exciting parts of their life on Facebook. If your teen begins to compare their “real” life to the seemingly “amazing” life portrayed on FB by their friends, it can seem as though their life is boring in comparison, which can cause some teens to become depressed. Doctors are now identifying what they call “Facebook Depression” in teens, so just be aware of it. You can read more about that here:
Talk with your teen about why they want to be on Facebook and what their intentions are with it. An honest, open discussion about it can really help you decide if it is a good choice for your teen now, or if it is something that should be delayed a bit.
Next post: What you should know about your teen’s privacy settings.