Hmm... Need your thoughts...

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-06-2006
Hmm... Need your thoughts...
5
Fri, 12-16-2011 - 12:21am
Got a call from the school today saying they got a call from a parent whose child had been invited to join a social networking site that my daughter (6th grader) had set up. She apparently set it up as an alternative to Google Buzz for her middle school. Here's the thing... You're supposed to be 13 to set up your site and participate. Obviously she and the other 64 kids on the site lied about their age. She set it up Monday (65 users added since then) using another site and it's actually pretty cool. It allows you to set up groups, chat, video chat, leave messages, post pictures and video, etc. Much like FB. She has been monitoring content and members for anything inappropriate. Dh and I looked at it tonight and so far it looks harmless. The kids simly wnqt a place to communicate. There is no inappropriate content and all users are students at here school. I love her initiative and creativity but worry about the lesson being taught about lying about your age and our personal liability should things get out of control. Dh wants to let her leave it up but tighten the security, get a group of adults to moderate, and I think we need to have it taken down. I hate to do that because the site and it's importance (i know, how can it be that important to them if it's only been up since Monday) to the kids in the school community mean a lot to her and the other students but I don't want to encourage illegal behavior and violating rules either. What do you think? I'm standing alone in my family and don't even feel that strongly about my position. How can I fight given those circumstances?
iVillage Member
Registered: 01-13-1999
Fri, 12-16-2011 - 9:53am

Need to think about this some more, Ami.

Avatar for turtletime
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-13-1998
Fri, 12-16-2011 - 9:59am

Take it down. Whether it's monitered or not, whether it's harmless or not, she shouldn't set-up a "school site" that none of the kids are old enough to use. Now, I'm not a stickler for these ages on a personal level. I let DD have hers a couple weeks before her 13th birthday and I had no qualms fudging her age (and there was a circumstance where joining a little early was beneficial.) DS 11 doesn't have one and won't likely until he's 13 or close to it but social Networking sites doesn't set that age to protect the child, they do it to protect themselves. By letting them do it early, you take the liability (and certainly, at that age, you need the codes and you need to keep an eye on who her "friends" are and what they and she are posting. I don't really know anyone who has never jay-walked or does every single thing "by-the-book" so I'm always surprised at how many rail against others for stuff like this.

But in this circumstance, take it down. It's one thing for you to allow her to do it (and I'd be upset if she did this without your consent) but to encourage other young friends to join is not OK. Plus, at this age... if you allow it, their "friends" should really just be family members and a couple people you actually know. I doubt you know all 64 of the kids who joined well.

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-06-1999
Fri, 12-16-2011 - 11:01am

Shut it down.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 12-16-2011 - 11:05am

I'll refer you to a Boston Globe article that referred to some of those same issues regarding Facebook's age limit.

http://www.boston.com/yourtown/cambridge/articles/2011/12/15/facebooks_age_limits_pose_a_puzzle_for_parents/

I can't say that I'd know what to do in that situation.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Fri, 12-16-2011 - 11:24am

I have a 6th grader and to me, the biggest issue isn't even necessarily the lying about the age (although I do regard that as an issue) but the fact that your 11 or12-year old has apparently been spending hours on the computer and you had no idea what she was doing. I'm not saying that you have to stand behind her as she types, but IMHO, she's got too much freedom on a device that can be amazing, but can also be harmful. It sounds like she's very bright, precocious, computer-savvy...all good things, BUT, I would say, "look, you're 11 years old. There is a reason that you're living at home and not off on your own somewhere. My job as a parent is to monitor what you're doing and help you make good choices. You can't start things of this magnitude without involving us, because WE are the ones who are contacted when things go awry. We are the ones held responsible..." I mean, the school didn't call your daughter when another parent was concerned, right? They called you. I don't know how many kids might potentially join or how many posts might potentially be made, but how many hours in a day does your dd have to devote to monitoring it? Getting parent volunteers seems risky too...everyone has a different idea of what's acceptable, everyone gets busy with their own lives. Honestly, I would leave it to the professionals.

Theresa