Monday, March 26, 2012

Your Child and Facebook: Are You Ready?

What to do when your little one wants to join Facebook? According to author Sharon Cindrich, you embrace the idea happily. Cindrich writes in an article in Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine that allowing her daughter to join Facebook at age 13 (the minimum age to join) has "helped her blossom and develop in unexpected ways."

I became skeptical when reading the beginning of this article. I'm not sure it's realistic to attribute a child's blossoming, development and "deeper relationships" to Facebook. (But hey, maybe it can happen.) However, as I read further, I began to understand the author's point.

Parents may be anxious about their kids joining social networks, but Ms. Cindrich points out that social networking is here to stay, so a parent might as well accept it, be informed, and not fear it. She offers some tips. First, determine if your child is ready and responsible enough to socialize online. Agree to share the password to your child's account. Take an interest in his online activities, and use that as a platform to engage in conversation with him.
"Despite these technological advances, there is one thing that hasn’t changed when it comes to a child’s social development — the importance of parental presence and intuition. Your child needs coaching, guidance, and encouragement as she navigates her way through friendships and other relationships with peers, whether 
in person or online. The bottom line is parents need to be involved. That is what helps keep our children safe."
Parenting is ever important as kids become connected to their peers through new technologies. The author says it so well: "Before your child engages online, talk with him about what it means to be private, responsible and kind. Let him know that he should not say or do anything online that he wouldn't do either at school or at the dinner table."

Ms. Cindrich is the author of A Smart Girl's Guide to the Internet, and her website is pluggedinparent.com. Her site offers a helpful list of parental resources for information on online safety, Internet education, and homework help.

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