Well, it finally happened.
I knew it was coming soon. All her friends have one and I knew it wouldn't be too long before Boogie would be asking for one, too.
She finally asked if she could have her own Facebook page. She likes to hover behind me while I'm mucking about on my own Facebook page to see what I'm up to. She is especially fond of the plethora of silly cat pictures and giggles over them while making me scroll back to ones we just passed so she can giggle over them again. Who doesn't love cats? Especially cute cats in photos enhanced with silly captions?
She didn't ask if she could have her own page right now, which is what I expected. Instead, she wanted to know if she could have one when she turns 13.
Pretty agreeable for a 12-year-old who was would have to wait a whole year for something.
"And, when you do get a Facebook page, I will always know the password and have access to it any time I want," I said.
"For how long?" she asked.
Uhhhh ...what'a a good answer? I had no idea how to answer and was totally not prepared for it. I guess I expected her to respond with a bit more defiance when I informed her I'd be poking around in her private life online and probably finding ways to embarrass her in the process.
"Ummm, until you're 18," I said, just pulling a random age out of the air. I can't say I really want to know what's going on in her private online life when she's 18, but it was the first number that popped in to my head.
"Oh. OK, that's fine," she replied and went back to texting one of her friends.
Huh" I expected more of an argument in support of why she should be allowed to break the rules. Actually, I kind of hoped for one, just a little one, so I could give her the lecture about the Internet being the stomping grounds for ax murderers, sickos, random naked people doing crazy things, and 40-year-old men who live in their parents' basement and play video games all day.
I think I've already given her that lecture.
I know there are plenty of kids under 13 who have a Facebook page, I know a lot of her friends have Facebook pages set up by and monitored by their parents. Her friends stay connected via Facebook and their cell phones, and I do think she might be missing out on that aspect of her socialization.
Facebook rules say you have to be at least 13, which I completely understand for legal reasons. But there are also levels of control I can opt to activate should I decide to be a Facebook rule-breaker and help her set up her own page under my guidance and monitoring.
On the other hand, what am I ultimately teaching her by letting her break the rules because all of her friends have? It's just one little rule, right? If we break it, she gets what she wants: a Facebook page. No harm, no foul. Who is going to know and who is going to care, really?
Besides, all of her friends are doing it, so where is the harm?
Here's the harm: Once you start letting your children know that it's OK to break the rules you don't like just so you can have what you want, you lead them down a slippery slope that will most likely result in them eventually breaking your rules so they can do whatever they want.
I don't want to go there. Should kids just blindly follow every single rule just because they are told to? Absolutely not. Questioning authority and questioning the fairness of some rules in an attempt to change them should be encouraged, but breaking rules just because you don't like them is not OK and does not lead to a society that plays well together.
Besides, it's just a year. And studies have shown that people who have patience to wait for the things they want generally do better in life overall than those who seek instant gratification.
Meaznwhile, she can sit down with me and look at all the cute kitties and funny videos on my Facebook page.