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Could your kid go without Facebook for a month? Could you?

What a difference a couple of years make.

I wrote in July 2008 about my husband's and my struggle over deciding whether to allow our then-14-year-old daughter to go on Facebook.

Now I can hardly imagine a time when Facebook wasn't a big part of her life -- and ours. We chose to allow her to enter the world of Facebook, and we've never looked back. In fact, her younger brother was allowed to not long after she started, too. The deal with both kids was that they had to "friend" me so I can see what they're saying to whom, and when. I'm not naive enough to say nothing bad will yet happen because my kids have Facebook accounts, but so far it's been a pleasant experience all 'round. (Thank you to the many Checkup readers who offered advice and related their own family Facebook experiences back in 2008.)

The Facebook homepage appears on a computer screen in Washington, DC in this August 30, 2010 photo. Could you or your child go without Facebook for a month? (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Image)

Because kids can access Facebook both by computer and smart phone, my two can go on just about any time they like. (Not during school hours, of course.) If it interferes with sleep or studies, we'll have to have them cut back. But for now it seems like a boat not worth rocking. (We'll talk about their incessant texting another day.)

Still, I read with interest this article (which I came across on Twitter; thanks, @msnbc_health) about a college student whose mother said she'd pay her $300 if she stayed off Facebook for a month. Seems the young woman's grades weren't all they should have been, and the mom suspected that spending some of that Facebook time cracking the books might help. The month ends tomorrow; I'll be curious to hear how the arrangement turns out.

That got me thinking. Could either of my kids do without Facebook for a whole month? I'm not sure they could, even if there were money in it for them. I'm not even sure I'm inclined to suggest it. It's an important part of their social lives. Plus, there's not (yet) much evidence that Facebook poses a health risk -- except in those awful incidents involving cyberbullying. (Here's Facebook's anti-bullying page.)

The more compelling question is this: Could I myself go Facebook-free for a month? It's easy enough to say I could; frankly, I don't find it all that interesting, and I'm not one of those rare Facebookers who have mastered the art of the riveting status update.

So why do I find myself checking Facebook oh, 30 or 40 times a day? I could pretend it's a professional obligation. It's not. It's just a diversion, a silly habit, and maybe if I quit I would finally finish that novel I've been working on. I need to give this some serious thought.

What about you? Do you do Facebook? Do your kids? Could either of you live without it for 30 days straight? Please comment below vote in today's poll.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | October 18, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Kids' health, Motherhood, Parenting, Sleep, Social Media, Teens  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Is that right? The McDonald's Happy Meal project
Next: First aid and CPR guidelines revisited


I deactivated my account about two months ago and feel more stalking other peoples "perfect" lives

Posted by: rc2223 | October 18, 2010 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I need another option on your poll. I could and my kids don't use it and have no interest in using it. I sometimes go for days without checking Facebook, because I simply forget to. I'd have a harder time going without Twitter.

Posted by: jstro | October 18, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

How about a poll option of "We use it and we could go a month without it."

Posted by: r6345 | October 18, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

I use FB because otherwise, I know almost nothing about my friends' lives back east (I moved to the Upper Midwest from DC about 6 years ago). Not on FB, I missed news about births, deaths, marriages - it was insane.

I admit I'm on it daily, but it's to check up on actual friends. If they went back to actually writing Christmas letters (I still do), regular letters or e-mails, or picking up the phone occasionally, I'd definitely be on it less.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | October 18, 2010 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I deactivated my account about a week ago and I'm right there with rc2223. Took too much time and, if you think about it, are you really getting that much info about your friends? For some (maybe a lot) - yes. For me - no. Throw in all of the potential personal data loss and it's just not worth it.

I might go back one day, but definitely after a culling of the ol' friend list.

My daughter is only 1, so I hope she's not on FB anytime soon.

Posted by: NoNoNo5 | October 18, 2010 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Yes, I could. I actually went without it for 3 months - from April to July 2010 after using it for 6 years (April 2004-April 2010). I got back on because it was the easiest way to keep up with family through photos, updates, etc.

Posted by: royruhling | October 18, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

I have three children, two grandchildren, seven siblings and countless cousins living out of state. Facebook keeps our entire family connected in a timely, lively way. We all use super tight privacy controls, no applications and are smart enough to stay away from links that lead to spam.
If I felt we were obsessed with it, I'd forsake it. For now, I think we're just fine.

Posted by: pras40 | October 18, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

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