Monday, June 1, 2009

Oh No Facebook Again!

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“Can I please have a Facebook account now, Mom?”

I raised my hand. I didn’t even have to add, “Talk to the hand,” for her to get the message.

She kept talking anyway. “Listen to me. It’s important.”

I listened.

I had known this day was coming, and it had arrived.

Let’s face it. Social networking is one way kids keep connected. Cell phones are typically the first experience and social networking is not far behind. I knew it would be an important social connection for her. I knew that by insisting she not be “connected” with her friends that it could impede her friend-making and networking abilities.

I had already decided that I needed to “allow” her to join the FB ranks the next time she asked. Didn’t and doesn’t take away my concern for her safety, but measures existed to make it work for both of us. I just had to figure them out.

“Okay,” I told her, “…if we can figure out how I can monitor everything.”

She was giddy.

For a full seven days I heard, “Have you figured it out? Have you signed up yet, Mom?” Of course, I was doing everything in my power to put it off. Eventually, I set aside a block of time and got to work on solving the FB challenge.

Here’s how we set up what I consider to be a safe environment for Addy to have her own Facebook account.

I receive a copy of every email notification she receives which includes any external communication from friends or strangers. If you think this is a violation of privacy, get over that idea right now. It’s public information that many others can read, including her teachers and parents of friends/boyfriends and later, her prospective employers.

I also have in my possession her username and password and explained up front that I will use them. If she ever changes them without giving me the keys, we will have a violation of our FB contract. Another condition is that I have to be an “accepted” friend of her network. This doesn’t mean I go posting things on her wall (that’s FB talk for public broadcast). It simply means that she is fully aware that I am looking and evaluating information that is posted on her pages, including words, messages and photographs.

We also have the strictest of privacy settings established. We talk constantly about notifications she’s received and other activities she does on FB.

So how do you get email notifications every time a transaction takes place? You sign your child up to have a account and then you set the settings to send all the FB generated emails to your e-mail address. If you need specific help doing this, you can visit and look for “Gmail” articles. There are two—one about Gmail and the other a step-by-step how-to-set-up article.

Interestingly, getting on Facebook—something I have resisted for a long time, by the way—has been fun for me, too. I am catching up with old friends, especially friends from high school. I now know that Pat W. lives in Conway, Keith K. lives in Cleveland and Darryl D.’s kids are talented singers. Several of us have reminisced about our elementary school experience. Yes, it’s an excellent vehicle for connecting. I can see now that if I had continued to forbid Addy from being on FB, I would have denied her an important social experience. No, I wouldn’t have started her any earlier, but I’m glad that we are on FB now. More to follow soon…

Allyn Evans
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