Yes, the headline is true, to a point. She HAD a Facebook account, until I found out and shut it down faster than you can say “Sometimes I hate the internet and all it allows”. The problem unfolded when I received a call from another Mum, letting me know that her daughter had mentioned Sister of a Man-Child now had a Facebook account. Thankfully the Mum called me and let me know, as she was concerned that she would even have one, and rightfully so. She also explained she’d expect me to do the same if the situation was reversed – and she was absolutely right.
To be honest I was pretty surprised to hear that our daughter had a Facebook account. I actually think for the most part she’s a very mature young girl, and also highly trustworthy, so I was genuinely shocked to learn what I did. So what happened next you ask? Angry, scary Mummy walked right in to where she was on the computer (again) and asked her “Who set up your Facebook account?” “Me” she said, looking absolutely terrified. I immediately asked her for her access details and “deactivated” the account on the spot, with a very teary Sister of a Man-Child beside me. She got even more upset when the damn password wouldn’t work and we had trouble even getting into the account and I got madder and madder at her and Facebook. Interesting, they only “deactivate” you, and tell you they’ll be waiting patiently should you decide to come back. You never get to really “delete” the thing, of course. So there’s her “signature” already on Facebook just waiting for her when she’s actually old enough to use it.
I asked her how she got around the age issue, and she told me she just lied about it. Now this is where the situation needs further explanation, and where I hold myself to blame. You remember our problem with her iTunes account, and my fortune (insert extreme sarcasm) in seeing (and hearing) every iMessage she sends to her friends on my iPhone. We finally managed a work around, which I admit did involve creating an email account for her with perhaps a little white lie about her age so we could have the account in the first place, and then another little while lie about her age to get the iTunes account. Problem finally solved, however, behaviour also easily mimicked by an 8-year-old. If she’s seen her mother and brother do it, then it must be okay! Damn.
I naturally also asked why she wanted a Facebook account in the first place. She told me she’d been jealous of her friend and how many “things” she had in an online game, and when she saw that she could earn more “things” herself if she simply logged in to Facebook she did just that, creating the account along the way. Aaaarrrgggh. They don’t call it “the web” for nothing, it’s a web of intrigue and danger and invitations that little minds just fall in love with. We then had a discussion about what she’d learned at school about the internet, and all the things she knew NOT to do, and that setting up this account was totally against the rules (both at school and home). As only an innocent 8-year-old could, she explained through more tears and half breaths (yep, very, very upset) that she had been on school holidays for a few weeks and forgotten about all the school rules. We had hugs and made up (angry Mummy now forgiving Mummy) and agreed that it would never happen again, and that she could be trusted not to make another error of judgement like that.
We also agreed that she has no more computer access until we go away, and the iPod has also been confiscated for an indefinite period. I am disappointed in myself to think that our behaviour wouldn’t be copied by my daughter, and I’m also annoyed with myself that I got so angry about it and with her. Father of a Man-Child would have been much calmer about it (he always is). He’s definitely the Yin to my Yang and where I am generally the yelling parent he is generally the talking parent (anyone who knows us both will not be surprised by that at all). At the end of the day I should have been angry with the internet, and the social networks that allow us all (including our children) to so easily create fake accounts and personas, whether for a good cause or not.
So, that’s our Facebook drama. What do you do to stop the hideous infiltration of the world-wide-web into your children’s lives? Do you have rules about using the internet, and other devices? Should I have handled things differently?
It does seem Sister of a Man-Child is getting quite a look in on the blog these days. Perhaps one day I’ll have to rename it? And what of the Men-Children you ask? Well being school holidays, I’d love to tell you how they are, but we’ve seen them so infrequently I barely know. I think we’ve had ONE meal together as a family in the whole school holidays. Yep, at 16 it’s just not where they want to be.
As we’re off on a little holiday with Sister of a Man-Child, you may not hear from me for a week, unless there is exciting breaking news about the Men-Children whilst we’re away! And no, we are not leaving them home alone – what do you think we are? Crazy?
I have written about the joys of Facebook before. Can you be Facebook friends with your kids?
OMG what a tricky one! Your 8 year old is only 2 years older than our daughter and it certainly is a ‘web’ to work through. Our daughters school uses a lot of technology in their classes and teaching. The P&C has bought every student membership to a Maths and reading programme with the idea being the students work on these programmes at home. So keeping children away from the Internet is difficult when it is encouraged at school. I guess all you can do is try keep the lines of communication open and encourage honesty and moderation and go back to basics. Go back and revisit the safe guards we as parents can implement to keep our children safe while on the web. If they learn while they are young perhaps later on the lessons will stick?? Perhaps an upside is that luckily she was only on Facebook – it could have been worse – and a reminder to your readers that we as parents need to be on the ball … Always :). Enjoy your holiday.
Yes it’s scary isn’t it. You don’t want to stop them understanding the internet and technology but we definitely need safeguards at home and at school. Thankfully the schools are very strong on educating them about guidelines for safe use but as you say we parents have to monitor also.