We let Rob get a Facebook account on his 13th birthday. It ended up being a fun way to help mark the day: a 13th birthday felt like it was Special and needed Special Things, but it was hard to think of what those Things might be. Saying "Yes, when you're 13" for a couple of years and then "Okay, YES, today you may!" sure helped. (Facebook doesn't allow people to sign up until age 13 anyway, but many of our local acquaintances have allowed their kids to sign up earlier using a fake birth year, so Rob has been suffering as many of his friends play Facebook games and talk about being Facebook friends.)
We told Rob that we weren't really sure how to handle social media stuff with him and would have to kind of feel our way through it and make changes as we went along. We started by agreeing that one of the conditions of him having a Facebook account was that he had to be Facebook friends with me so that I could snoop around if I wanted to. We dithered with the idea of having his password, and told him we might change to that later if with time we felt like being friends wasn't enough for us to be comfortable.
I wish, though, that Facebook had a different type of friendship link available for parents and their minor children. Being Facebook friends with Rob means that he sees MY status updates in HIS Facebook stream, and neither of us wants that. And also, it doesn't give me the sort of access/control I want: I want to be able to verify that his privacy settings are appropriate, and I don't want him to be able to block or restrict me from seeing what he posts.
The parent-child friendship link I'm imagining would be one-way: the child's status updates and activities would show up in the parent's Facebook stream, but not the other way around. (Or maybe there could be the option to allow it or not allow it, depending on what the particular parent/child combination preferred.) The parent would have certain limited access to the child's settings---to the privacy settings, for example, but not to the friend requesting/accepting areas or the likes/info editing areas. The child account would not be able to block or restrict the parent account. The whole arrangement would disconnect automatically when the child turned 18; at that point, either the parent or the child could make a regular friend request.
It seems like one of the main problems would be how to make sure the person trying to get Parent Access to someone else's account was actually that person's parent/guardian, and I'm not sure how that could be established. Maybe just by the usual Facebook request format: "X says she is your parent or guardian, and requests parental access to your account," with buttons label "Accept" and "Deny."
It seems to me like this would be a nice compromise between "We're just friends so you can block me" and "Give me your password and therefore get inspired to create a second Facebook account I don't even know about."
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...