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.)
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.
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| October 18, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Kids' health, Motherhood, Parenting, Sleep, Social Media, Teens
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