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Is Facebook a Healthy Choice for Teens?

Let me be clear: I trust my 14-year-old daughter, and she's never given me reason not to. (We often have joked that her worst transgression so far was when she snuck off and cut her own hair at age 5.)

But trust in her isn't really the issue in our household these days as her yearning for a Facebook account grows stronger daily.

The answer has been "no" for some time now. My husband and I have heard all the horror stories about online social sites, not just the ones about predators posing as potential friends but also about silly kids posting images and comments that they later come to regret having shared with the world -- not to mention the hours wasted by Facebook-addicted kids. Is this particular social-networking site a healthy choice?

I do want to keep an open mind. She and I just returned from a wonderful, 11-day trip to Europe with a multi-school chorus. The kids had a fabulous time, spending every waking hour with one another. And then, suddenly, it was over, and everyone scattered across the state to their hometowns. I know my daughter feels bereft, knowing she won't see them until the chorus program resumes in the fall.

These were all great kids, all of them apparently smart, accomplished, and wholesome. The parents accompanying them seemed like fine, upstanding, responsible, and caring folks. And many of them had allowed (though some reluctantly) their kids to have Facebook accounts. Not MySpace, mind you -- everyone agreed that the more loosely controlled spot is not right for teens. But Facebook, with its available privacy controls, is working out okay for many of these young people.

Facebook-allowing parents on the trip cautioned that some rules are in order, chief among them that the parent has the password to the account and makes it clear that he or she will be checking the page frequently. Don't just threaten to check, either, they suggested, but actually do so, often. They also suggested a serious talk about what's appropriate, and inappropriate, for kids to post. (Anything that might be embarrassing if a future employer saw it, for instance, is taboo.)

I believe my daughter would abide by the rules. But she's still a kid, and I don't know if it's fair, or healthy, to fully trust her still-maturing judgment about what's appropriate and what's not. And I have no way of gauging her friends' judgment and maturity. What if one of them has a bad day and says something mean or embarrassing to all my kid's Facebook buddies? Worse yet, what if a friend turns on her altogether and sets out to make her life miserable by spreading untruths or secrets shared in confidence?

I'm also curious as to whether Facebook really is as impervious to intruders as it's said to be. My understanding is that once a kid joins a Facebook "group," which seems to be the thing to do, their profile is open to every member of that group, whether they know them or not, unless they specifically go in and set up their account otherwise. And what about the ads that appear on the page; are they for things I want my daughter exposed to?

(For the record, I have a fledgling Facebook account of my own, which I set up at the suggestion of a colleague when this blog was launched. I never take time to check it; as of today, I have just three "Friends," -- other Facebook users who have asked, and been granted by me, permission to view my page -- one of whom is my brother.)

What's been your experience with Facebook? Am I being naive? An old fogey? Overprotective? Please share your insights, your horror stories -- and your success stories.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  July 15, 2008; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Teens  
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Your kid's profile will not be open to all members of a group she belongs to. FB's privacy controls really are great. You have to spend some time setting them up, but you have almost total control over who sees what.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 15, 2008 7:55 AM | Report abuse

My daughter just graduated from high school. She has Asperger's syndrome and is not very social. Facebook has allowed her to communicate with her peers, and start to build connections with them, in a forum that is more comfortable for her. While I don't know her password, I am one of her Facebook friends, so I can check on her site at any time. With appropriate parental guidance, Facebook has been a strongly positive force for her.

Posted by: nb | July 15, 2008 8:29 AM | Report abuse

All of the things you worry about happening to your daughter on facebook can happen just as easily in the halls at school without her having a facebook account. People can spread rumors about her without her having a facebook account. Facebook is a great tool to keep in touch with people and it's a safer place for teens to learn some online responsibility than what they're going to find ways to do if you don't allow it.

Posted by: CDTiger | July 15, 2008 8:55 AM | Report abuse

I didn't get a Facebook account until I graduated from college last year, and I can't say it had a major impact on my social life one way or the other. I think your concerns about privacy, youthful indiscretions, and time-wasting are right on. Your daughter can wait.

Posted by: William | July 15, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

I am a recent college graduate and I think there are varied positives and negatives associated with facebook. As a former user I found that the network allowed for easy access to information about gatherings, social events and general information. But I also found my friends and I were spending way way too much time looking at people's pictures and writing messages on other people's wall. I believe that a result of facebook is the erosion of personal interaction. Instead of going to the coffee shop to meet up, people would rather sit at their computer so they could update pictures. I say let your daughter use it keep up with distant friends but don't let her become obsessed with updating her profile or joining groups. Life is too short to spend it stuck in front of a computer screen.

Posted by: jacob | July 15, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

I think you're too over-protective of your daughter. You say that she's never given you a reason not to trust her, yet you won't let her make her own decisions. She's a teenager, and, it seems, responsible and mature. Facebook is a tool that's perfect for keeping in touch with the friends she made on her chorus trip, or from other places. As a college student, I love that I can stay connected to all of my friends, especially now that many of my friends from univeristy are international students and it's too expensive to call them over the summer.
Should you allow your daughter to create an account, advise her to use the privacy settings, which she can customize to each of her "friends". Ultimately, you should let her make the decision as to whether or not she is responsible enough to know what is appropriate for posting and what is not.

Posted by: Jane | July 15, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

I am a 26 year-old facebook user and love it. It's a great way for me to keep in touch with college friends. I was also able to join the alumni group from my major. It's really nice keeping in touch with former professors. I don't think it would be bad if your daughter had a facebook account. Sit down with her and discuss what you think is appropriate and inappropriate content. Maybe you could compromise with her, she can have a facebook account as long as she doesn't post pictures, or that you approve pictures that she wants to post. As stated, you can set up privacy standards where only people you allow can see your information. It is possible for her to join groups and her information not appear becuase she is a minor--you just have to take the time to set it up. At some point you have to give your adolescent room to make mistakes. If she doesn't learn now about consequences for choices, it will be a lot worse later down the road when something more severe happens because she doesn't know how to make good decisions.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 15, 2008 9:43 AM | Report abuse

It's a good social tool for students. Your daughter doesn't have to friend people she doesn't want to. She can untag pictures of herself if she wants to. But, like Jane, I found it incredibly instrumental to stay in contact with friends while either they were or I was abroad. Not to mention, it's a great way to inform people about events. I was holding a panel discussion in the journalism school I attend, and we got the word out by inviting different friends at my school through Facebook. Not everyone reads the fliers you put up in the school. So, as a way to stay in touch with friends, I see no problem in it. But it can be a distraction, so perhaps setting some ground rules while she's still at home would be a good idea. My parents used to not let me and my siblings watch television during the week, and if we did at all, it had to be after finishing our homework...maybe that's a place to start.

Posted by: Tricia | July 15, 2008 9:44 AM | Report abuse

fr Jane:

>...Ultimately, you should let her make the decision as to whether or not she is responsible enough to know what is appropriate for posting and what is not.

I'd say NO, until she is 18. Also, please keep in mind that college admissions and future employers are now looking at "Facebook" or "MySpace" pages and making determinations whether to accept or even interview prospective students or employees.

Posted by: Alex | July 15, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Thanks so much for all the insights and helpful comments! Lots of food for thought before we make this decision....

Posted by: Jennifer Huget | July 15, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Ultimately, you should let her make the decision as to whether or not she is responsible enough to know what is appropriate for posting and what is not.

is some of the WORST advice I've ever seen.

14 year olds don't make decisions as to what's appropriate or not, the idea is sort of absurd. And for college students and the graduates to compare their experiences with Facebook, with the potential experience of a 14 year old girl is like comparing apples to oranges in that there is no comparison.

The difference between someone spreading a rumor about you in the hallways of a particular school, versus spreading rumors about you, potentially with pictures, the entire world are night and day.

I have a Facebook account, and have used it to catch up with old classmates from high school and college, trade baby pictures, and basically keep each other loosely informed about what's going on in each other's lives. But these are geographically distant friends.

For local friends I actually have them over for parties, go out for drinks, know...ancient customs that people do in the real world.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 15, 2008 10:11 AM | Report abuse

It is easy to set up your account so that only friends may see what's on your page. That way future employers won't be able to look at your Facebook page unless you're foolish enough to friend them.

As with any technology, if your daughter uses it responsibly, there's really nothing to worry about.

Posted by: Craig | July 15, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Ok I'm older then 14, but can still see the similarities between her situation and mine.

I actually use Facebook to send invitations to people or just ask if the want to met up some time. I don't really use it much, but I have realized that most invitations and so on now come by Facebook. If i wouldn't have an account I would miss quite a lot.

So, the important thing perhaps is if your daughter's friends do have Facebook. If they do (and it seems like thay do) than perhaps instead of helping her you actually make her feel like an outsider.
Where I'm from everybody talks about Facebook, and as long as you don't publish any embarrassing pictures there is more fun out there than there are people wanna hurt you.

Posted by: Tomas | July 15, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Just a quick reminder that if you choose not to have her password, and simple "friend" her (as nb did) she would be able to set her privacy settings so that you would not have access to everything on her site, and you would not necessarily be able to see that there were restricted items.. I would strongly encourage having the password.

Posted by: DMM | July 15, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Let her set one up. At least you can supervise it. I'm surprised she hasn't bypassed you altogether and created a Facebook account using a friend's computer, or a library computer.

Posted by: MF | July 15, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

"What if one of them has a bad day and says something mean or embarrassing to all my kid's Facebook buddies?"

They can say mean or embarrassing things on Facebook whether or not she has a profile.

One of the advantages of Facebook is that Wall posts, etc. are attributed, with name and profile picture, so it's fairly easy to know who to talk to if there's an issue.

I think that setting up rules such as having the password, and checking regularly, is reasonable. If you are supervising her activity, you'll know if there is a problem she can't handle on her own, or if she's doing something that could have ramifications she hasn't anticipated.

But if she's always been responsible, why don't you trust her to learn how to deal with this environment? That sounds like an issue for you to deal with, not her.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 15, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

I agree with most of the posts. You're a little out of the loop on this one. You can exercise about as much control as you want over your daughter's facebook profile. Check her pictures frequently. But nothing can really happen to her there that can't happen to her in school, at the mall, at the park, you name it. Only at these places she can by physically acosted, whereas on Facebook, as of yet, the technology hasn't reached that point.

Exercise enough control so that you feel comfortable. Also, constantly make fun of it. Facebook is no substitute for actual socialization, and I think it's a disturbing trend that young American girls find it indespensible. Maybe that's because so many of their parents have made it taboo.

Posted by: Chris Taormina | July 15, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

I've had a facebook for going on 4 years now, and in my opinion, it's only as addicting and dangerous as you let it. I am a recent college grad, who started using facebook when it was available to only select colleges. I saw it as a way to connect w/ friends in classes and friends from HS, and with a student body of 34,000 and going to school over 2,000 miles from my friends it was great.

I never spent a great deal of time on facebook, and still don't. I check about once a day to see what's up in the lives of my friends and that's about it. I haven't let facebook rule my life.

Having said that, I have seen facebook overtake the lives of my 21 year-old sister and 16 year-old brother, and listen daily to the pleadings of my 12 year-old brother to get a facebook as well--the answer for him is of course no.

It's up to the indvidual and parent how much you will let facebook become a part of yours or your childs life--I know my parents several times have given my brother groundings from facebook should he not follow through on specific obligations, and my sister has deactivates her account when she feels she's been wasting too much time on facebook.

Adults can get facebook accounts also. I am friends with several of my aunts, two adult women from church, and one of my friends mom. So in addition to facebook's security settings (which I see have already been mentioned), if you were to get an account, you would also be able to "friend" you daughter and have complete view of her profile--I know my mother has considered that same thing so she can check up on my brother and his friends, but also so see pictures of my sister and I at school.

Really, it's about being responsible and being smart. No worries!

Posted by: MM | July 15, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse

I am 21 and in college, and back in our day (I know) we had to wait until we had a .edu email address to get on facebook. I, like everyone, else was desperate for mine. I went to a small high school and certainly didn't need a facebook, but I have some friends whose younger siblings are on fb, and judging from my current experience it would definitely be very isolating for her to be the only one without a facebook. I saw a post from someone who got on facebook after graduating college, and can tell you from discussions with graduate student friends that things have changed incredibly quickly; no offense to that poster, but his/her advice on the topic really shouldn't inform your decision very much. Facebook book is an indispensible social tool for the college student. As for your teenager...the absolute latest you can hold out is until she has her college acceptances. Then it would be cruelty. Until then, I think you should let her on and I suppose monitor her profile. Besides, I had a Xanga (like myspace) and turned out all right.

Posted by: Jamie | July 15, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

My 17 year old son has a facebook, as do I, and he uses his all the time. At least he did till he lost all computer privileges, but that's another story.

I agree with Jacob above - it's a great way to keep up with distant friends, but it can be overused. I believe it is recognized that one can be addicted to the internet, so like any privilege, use of the computer and access to facebook should be granted depending upon completion of chores, and living up to responsibilities.

Besides, how will your daughter learn to exercise her judgment if she isn't allowed to use it?

So, I would say, by all means, let her have her facebook, but make sure she gives you the password. Trust, but verify has always been what we do. I was very touched when my son and his girlfriend friended me, and a few other kids have sent me friend requests. I think they felt sorry for me when I said I only had 4 or 5 friends!

Posted by: a parent of a teenager | July 15, 2008 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Am I being naive?
An old fogey?

Your saving grace is that you love your daughter and are bright and hopefully flexible and tolerant.

If you trust your daughter, why are you so skittish? Will she run off with a masher? All she has to do, if trouble appears, is to not respond. In other words, nothing.

Both my kids -- 22 and 16 -- have had sites for years. Most kids at 14, according to my son, have sites. You are definately in the minority on this issue.

So open up and give her a site. If you really trust her there will be no problems. Unless -- she rebels as I certainly would if my mom was such a Neanderthal on the issue. By denying her access to her friends, you are really asking for a backlash.

I'd be furious with you knowing you didn't trust me -- after saying you did -- AND keeping me away from my friends in the choirs. Your actions should match your words!

All my kids' social communications go thru facebook or myspace.

Plus you must know statistically most mashers are family members or friends who already know their target.

So loosen up, mama. Its more dangerous each time she crosses the street or travels in a car.

Posted by: Tashi | July 15, 2008 1:05 PM | Report abuse

My 14yo daughter and I both have Facebook accounts. I have her password so I can check hers but I've never seen anything objectionable. I use mine to connect with old classmates and high school friends, colleagues (my work place has a group), and just for fun. Yup, even in your 40's spending time collecting virtual pirate gold on the high seas can be a fun and mindless stress relief. My 14yo uses it to stay connected with friends who don't live near us. She makes friends at camps, regional sporting events (she swims), and a regional youth group, and Facebook is a great way for them to stay in touch and cheaper than increasing her text message allotment.

Posted by: Elizabeth | July 15, 2008 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Just a note on your comment about Facebook being "impervious to intruders" ... Security settings are limited to other Facebook account holders and can be used to control who is allowed to see what on your profile. HOWEVER, what nobody has mentioned is the rise of the thousands of Facebook applications which users can add to their accounts. These applications, which are developed by outside sources to be compatible with Facebook, take information from the profiles of people who download them - name, email and mailing addresses, phone numbers, birth dates, etc. I have a Facebook account and I refuse to download or use any outside applications for such reasons. My profile is certainly not as substantial as those of many (okay, all) of my friends, but at least I know that my personal information is not being distributed to outside software developers. I see Facebook as a valuable social tool, but if you are concerned about security then you should be particularly aware of using outside applications and stick to the basic profile applications provided by Facebook.

Posted by: jh | July 15, 2008 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in the foreign service in the late 80's and early 90's moving from school to school every few years. At the time, things like FB didn't exist, and I really wish, in retrospect, that they had. Every time we moved I lost touch with good friends. Lately I've been able to get back in touch with them via FB.

Facebook shouldn't be a replacement for real face-to-face interactions with friends and acquaintances. And with really close friends who live far away, of course, you want to keep in touch more closely than just viewing each other's page every now and then.

But where it's really useful is with slightly more casual acquaintances, as a kind of reverse form-letter. Instead of bugging all the people you know with everything that's new or happening in your life (like those irritating Christmas letters that some people send out unsolicited), you can post anything you'd like people to know, and whenever they want to know what you're up to, they can find out. For example, a little while ago an old friend's dog was hit by a car and killed. He was upset, but he lives far away and would have felt odd about sending me an email about it. But he put the news on his profile and I saw it because I was wondering how he was doing, so then I could write to tell him I was sorry about it and everything.

One of the strengths of Facebook is that it can really be whatever you decide it is going to be (or in your case, whatever you and your daughter agree on). The privacy settings are extremely flexible - you can be utterly invisible to everyone except your friends, if you want. Some people spend a lot of time on it, but others check it much less frequently. And while some people install all sorts of time-wasting applications, you don't have to. You can decide that it will just be for keeping in touch, and not for playing games. (Although I enjoy being able to make a move in the ongoing Go games I have ongoing with a few of my friends whenever I log in.)

Obviously, this is all up to you - she's your daughter. But I think you might consider a few things:

1. It would enable her to keep in touch with people she misses enough to want to keep up with, but might be shy about emailing.

2. A lot of social news gets passed along via FB, and not being on FB might make it harder for her to keep up with what people were doing, and make her more dependent on her friends for news.

3. If a part of her social life is on FB, and you have the password, then you actually have more of an idea what is going on in her and her friends' world, since some of it will show up there.

4. I know people speak with fear about how college admissions officers check FB, but this can also be an opportunity. If she's a smart, hard-working, sensible, creative girl, that will probably be apparent on her profile, and may impress admissions officers, who do, after all, know what silly pages some of their own students have. (I occasionally do interviews for my alma mater, and check people's profiles if I can see them, and have at times had my impression of an applicant improved by a look at his or her page.)


Posted by: Beren | July 15, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I have four children; 28, 24, 17, and 15. They all had myspace accounts and now they have all moved to facebook. My younger children had myspace accounts when they were 13 and 15. Interestingly, my children invited me to myspace and made me their friend so I had access to all of their accounts. My friend's kids (she also has 4 children) thought it was "gross" when she opened a myspace account. My kids, who are friends with her kids, said that was because there were things in her kid's lives that they did not want her to know. At the time, my 15 year old, who is a girl, seemed to spend a lot of time designing and changing her page. I checked on it frequently and occasionally saw something that one of her friends posted that I thought was inappropriate. I always brought these things to her attention and she agreed that they were inappropriate. After a period of time, the newness wore off and the amount of time spent on these websites decreased. It's just a communication tool. Your daughter sounds responsible and it also sounds like you have a good relationship with her. I favor letting kids have their own accounts because it gives them a taste of responsibility while you are still able to provide frequent monitoring and it opens opportunities for discussions about what you find objectionable. If you wait until she is 18, it will be too late. She'll be in college and can do things without you knowing. Look at this as an opportunity for you to teach her your values about how and what she should use facebook for. A side benefit for girls, in my opinion, is that it's a great way for them to increase their technological know-how. I am in the software engineering business, and if you do a little research into the IT field, women are very much under represented in the field as a whole. Learning how to design and manage a personal facebook page may be one way girls can become more confident about their interactions with technology.

Posted by: Carline | July 15, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

We thought our son was just getting on Facebook to chat with friends. Once we got an opportunity to see what he was actually up to we were horrified. He and all of his "friends" were organizing their use and business of selling illegal drugs via Facebook. It spanned multiple schools in our county. A majority of their communication was taking place during the school day too. I had to write the school board and eventually got Myspace and Facebook blocked from school computers. Needless to say he does not get much internet time at home now and when he is on the internet it is EXTREMELY secure.

Posted by: RRS | July 15, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

RRS, way to ruin it for all the kids whose parents raised them properly.

I've had a facebook account since '05 and it has been DELIGHTFUL in keeping up with folks who, in some cases, I haven't seen in over a decade. It's an excellent tool for maintaining relationships that would otherwise fade completely away. I think Carline has the right idea; trusting your daughter with gradually released privacy controls over the next year or two just makes sense. Just make sure she's aware that Facebook is the new quick-and-dirty background check, so be careful setting what people see, and never upload or type anything that she wouldn't want the entire world to have forever... 'cuz the internet is great at doing that.

Posted by: responsibility is key | July 15, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I for one don't think you are an old fogey. I also don't think your daughter will be permanently scarred if she doesn't have a Facebook account. There are a multitude of ways to keep in touch with people. There's the phone. If that's too expensive, there's e-mail. There's even snail mail. Just because someone lives far away, doesn't mean you can't keep in touch. And frankly, doing a drive-by occasionally on their Facebook and seeing what they did last week doesn't constitute a relationship. It's no different than reading in the local paper that someone you went to school with got married last week or was arrested. It's interesting information but doesn't really change your life in any way. Actually attending the wedding would bring the two of you together. While it might be nice to see photos of an event you missed or interesting to read up on people's lives, the more important measure is the quality of the ACTUAL friendships you have. Having 500 people who drive-by your Facebook and snoop into your life unknown, is not very enriching. Having a handful of close friends that you get together with to share the good times and the bad in person is the way to go.

Let her have a Facebook, don't let her, it's your decision. She's a minor and you're her mother. Either way, don't lose a lot of sleep over how it will effect her life. Neither of my kids have a Facebook account nor have they asked for one and yet, they have good friendships with quality people and even manage to keep in touch with family and friends out of state and appear to be happy, well adjusted kids who get invited to social events even without Facebook. Go figure...

Posted by: Becky | July 15, 2008 2:14 PM | Report abuse

overprotective, fer sure.

Posted by: mike | July 15, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Just wanted to throw one thing out there - networking sites are here to stay. Someday your daughter will be a member of one (most likely). Isn't it probably best for her to learn how to use these sites under the guidance of a parent?

Posted by: Anon | July 15, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

No offense, but I'm going with "old fogey." All of your concerns, while valid, are easily rectified by adjusting your child's privacy settings on Facebook.

Posted by: cali_snowboarder | July 15, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I've had a Facebook account since my sophomore year in high school. I got it without my mom's permission and when she found out,she wasn't too happy. However, we discussed how I would use the account and the available safety features. So far, everything's gone smoothly. I only friend people I know and I make sure that only my friends can see my profile. I've also hidden or not included personal information like cell phone numbers and e-mail address. Facebook also really helped me after my cousin's death because it was easier to stay connected with my cousins and his girlfriend.
One thing you will want to consider if you allow her to get a facebook account is putting a time cap on it. I have spent two or three hours on facebook when I'm really supposed to be doing homework. So let her see when most of her friends log on and then give her half an hour to an hour during that time. I'm sure as she gets older you can change the rules a bit,but facebook can be overwhelming when you first get started.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 7:42 AM | Report abuse

Thank you all for your great comments! I'll let you know what my husband and I decide to do about this....

Posted by: Jennifer Huget | July 16, 2008 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Am I being naive?
An old fogey?
maybe a little
not really

You are not naive in your decision about saying "no" to your daughter so far. Your decision to hold off on "yes" clearly has more to do with what other people are doing on Facebook than your trust in her. If you were naive, you would have said "no" and that would have been the end of it. However, you reached out to other people to make a more informed decision.

That's where the old fogey part comes in. Many of today's parents aren't familiar with this type of social networking; it's a brand new medium that's sprung up in the last five or so years. So it's understandable that you would have some misgivings about readily saying "yes." And the media seems to jump at every chance to show how the horror stories. But what's generally at the root of those stories are things that even a six-year old should know: don't give out information to strangers, don't put all of your business out there, etc.

Are you being overprotective? No, your daughter is 14. And even mature 14-year olds make mistakes in judgment. However, your daughter should be fine having a Facebook account. And don't worry about malicious rumors or secrets too much; I haven't seen any of that happen, and it generally doesn't if your friends are truly your friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 16, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

I think you're seriously hurting your daughter by not allowing her to go on Facebook. She's living in a world where social networking is a reality. Like it or not, she's at a serious disadvantage if she does not learn how to conduct herself online to benefit both personal and work life. While she's young and without great responsibility, she needs to figure out what level of privacy she's comfortable with. I'm not talking about privacy settings (which you should of course create), but privacy in terms of, "How much of my life do I want to share with my friends? What percentage of my life should I live online? Why would I post this on her wall, rather than email her?"

Look, she will use Facebook (or its future equivalent) eventually. Much better to have her become a good citizen of the Internet *before* she has any truly salacious content to share.

Posted by: Fitz | July 17, 2008 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Is this really an issue? With 1 in four American teenagers having an STD (with the probable amount even higher) your greatest concern is Facebook? Your kid is 14, seriously man up about it, give her some obvious instructions about not adding strangers, add her yourself if need be and stop smothering her.

Posted by: Alex | July 19, 2008 7:14 AM | Report abuse

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