Thursday, January 14, 2010


There’s a lot to like about Facebook. Status updates for example. Through them I’ve learned when a friend was excited about an upcoming trip to New York, or in need of prayer because of their medical situation, or stressed because both their children had the flu, or happy because they were expecting another little one. One friend’s update even helped me save valuable minutes every laundry day:

“I have a laundry confession – I don't fold underwear. It's true. Try it! C'mon – free yourself from folded underwear tyranny!”

This website is often derided as a timewaster, but if it weren’t for Facebook I would have been forever condemned to worrying about wrinkles in items of clothing that no one even sees!
A starting spot

So there’s a lot to like about Facebook, but the site does have an unpleasant side. Like the Internet itself, it is not a place teens should be allowed to go unmonitored. And younger children should not be allowed on the site at all.

How young is too young? You have to be at least 13 to get a Facebook account (though many children get around this restriction by simply pretending to be older). If 13 is the standard this secular group sets, that seems a good indicator that Christian parents should consider an older age limit.
Problematic applications

Some of the parents I’ve talked to have signed up to Facebook specifically to keep track of what their children are up to. But even some of these parents are oblivious to the dark side of Facebook. This is a site that encourages curiosity – the more you explore the more cool applications, pictures and games you can find. But if children do start exploring they are sure to come across Facebook’s sleazy side. A quick perusal of the 20 most popular applications revealed that at least 11 of them had material that was not appropriate for children… or adults for that matter.

1) Funwall: Lots of cute posters, but about 10% of the material is pornographic
3) Superwall: Users can share videos, half of which seem to be pornographic
4) Bumperstickers: Contains a category called “F-you”
5) Owned: Allows users to buy and sell friends
6) Texas Hold ’Em Poker: A great place to practice gambling
7) Friends For Sale: The name says it all
13) Super Poke: Loads of street slang sexual references
16) My Sexy Friends: Encourages the objectifying and rating of friends
17) Mob Wars: For anyone who wants to be the head of a murderous gang
19) Zoosk: A dating service
20) Likeness: How similar are you to the movie stars you idolize?
Other problems
21) My friends tag me some trash pictures and it becomes my fault :)

Pornography is a big problem but applications like Fun Wall, SuperWall and Bumpersticker are also problematic in that they contain clever insults, cutting putdowns and vulgar jokes. This is just the sort of source material that teenage boys use to impress their friends in the schoolyard, and Facebook is an endless source.

The site has also been used by students in our Reformed schools to pass comments to each other about their favorite and least favorite teachers. We all know that students have always said nasty things about teachers, but doing it on Facebook brings it to a whole new level. The mean words spoken between students in a school hallway are soon forgotten, but the same words posted on a Facebook page encourage friends to add to and expand on these insulting words.

The same thing can also happen between friends – silly insults spoken between friends aren’t that significant. But they become far more hurtful when they are posted on Facebook for dozens and even hundreds of others to read.
I’ve seen some rather horrid material being said by Christian youth. I can only assume that their parents don’t know what these children are up to.

And that’s the real problem; many parents aren’t monitoring their children’s use of Facebook. A responsible parent always knows where their children are and it shouldn’t be any different with the Internet and with this website.

Like the Internet itself Facebook has some amazing content that makes it very attractive. Facebook allows friends to share photos and news, keep track of birthdays and email addresses, organize events, play games like Scrabble and Boggle together, and even monitor the cheapest plane fares to Europe. Mature users can decide to make use of the good material and ignore the rest.

But younger users may not make the right choices so parents must takes steps to know what their offspring are up to. To do that, you’ll have to sign up as your child’s Facebook friend and check their page regularly. If you don’t know how, ask your child or someone in their early twenties and they’ll almost certainly be able to help. And if your child is under 13 get him off the website. If the world admits the site is inappropriate for children this young why would we think different?

Facebook: Not For Kids

0 komentar: