When you hear "privacy law" and "Facebook," the first thing that comes to mind is "finally," right? They're finally stepping up for the little guy? Maybe not. A proposed California "Facebook" law would trample right over one particular little guy -- our kids.
The law would allow parents ultimate control over their kids' Facebook pages, including the right to demand the company erase certain content or even delete the whole page within 48 hours of the request. Hello, helicopter parents, the fever pitch of your celebration is giving me a headache. Can we stop the whirring for 5 seconds and think about what this will DO to your kids?
If you raise your kids in an environment where their every move is monitored, where they aren't allowed to breathe without your say so, are you really surprised they've created a hidden Facebook account and filled it up with all the things you don't want to see? Kids are, after all, individual people. As much as we'd love them to do and say what we plan for them, it doesn't work that way. They have goals, dreams, hobbies that mystify us at times.
What we need to create, rather than a world where we scrub away their identities with emails to social media companies, is an atmosphere of trust. This isn't to be confused with an indictment of anyone who checks up on their child's online whereabouts. That's just good parenting. But the two can go hand in hand.
One mom has a rule that her child has to use Facebook on a family computer. If she walks into the room while the girl is online, the girl isn't allowed to suddenly hide the screen. So the girl can do what she wants, but it's always with the thought in her mind that her mom could walk in at any moment and see what she's doing. It has the effect of keeping it clean without Mom standing over her shoulder at every moment. There's a trust that translates well into the rest of the kid's life. She's a solid student, a pleasure to be around, a good worker.
Take another kid I know, on the other hand. I'll call him Joe. His parents have banned him from having Facebook. They monitor his every move. Or so they think. Because "Joe" tried to friend me recently with an account that lists his first name and fictional last name. The birthdate is different too, but the pictures don't lie. I refused the request. I'm not getting in the middle of it, especially because I'm not a real fan of his mother. She's constantly harping on her child, never giving him any credit for having done ANYTHING right. I don't support his insubordination. But I see where it came from, how it translates into the rest of his life, where he tends to act out for attention.
I can't help hearkening back to my own teenage days when we used not Facebook but old-fashioned pens and journals to get out our feelings. Kids NEED outlets to rant and rave just like adults. They also need the ability to find kindred spirits, and the beautiful thing about today's kids is they have an option freaks in our generation didn't -- the Internet.
Will Burns over at Howtos, Rants, and Reviews who alerted me to this story had a very simple summation of the ridiculousness behind legislating kids' behavior on Facebook:
If parents don't want their kids putting things on the internet they should just not allow them to use social networks. If parents feel they should have access to their children's accounts then they should talk with their kids and agree to have their login credentials.
That's it, parents. That's all you have to do. Buck up and act like real parents. Let your kids be themselves.
Do you think we need a law to legislate this? Or should parents find what works in their household?
Image via Facebook