Giving In to Tweens Who Want to Join Facebook – Is It Too Much Pressure for a Parent to Bear?

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Are-your-kids-begging-you-L-p731jH-175x130 From firsthand experience, I can tell you that it’s very difficult not to simply succumb to the pressures of letting your tween have an account on an adult-intended social network like Facebook. Most of their friends probably have one—in fact, their friends’ younger siblings probably have one. But does that justify giving in?

That’s the question I asked myself after reading Christina Tynan-Wood’s article, How Much Privacy Does My Kid Give Up in an Hour?, on Common Sense Media’s website. If you read the article, you’ll see that Christina isn’t your “average parent” raising her daughter in the digital world that we live in today. She’s a tech guru who has written articles for a number of tech magazines, including PC Magazine, Popular Science and PC World.


The bulk of Christina’s article lets readers know that she’s fully aware of how behavioral advertising works on the Internet, and how all of her daughter’s clicks are tracked one way or another and then sold to advertising/marketing firms. However, she doesn’t want her daughter to feel left out (what parent does?), and after hearing things like “You’re ruining my life” and “I’m the only kid in my class not on Facebook”, Christina eventually does what many parents have done….she gives in.

Now, before I state my questions and concerns, let me be clear that I applaud Christina for being as vigilant as she is when it comes to her daughter’s online privacy. She’s hyper aware of what information is being collected about her daughter, and makes it easy for many parents, who may not be as savvy, to understand the privacy issues we all should. Based on what she wrote, however, I’m not sure she did her research on the alternative kid-focused social networks that comply with COPPA, a law that’s designed to protect her daughter’s online privacy.

Though there are plenty of these sites out there, Yoursphere, for example, gives tweens like Christina’s daughter the ability to network in an age-appropriate online community.

Yoursphere Sign Up Page

Member        Page   Yoursphere

Kid Profile Setup Page

Ystestkid   Profile

So my question is, is she aware of alternatives like Yoursphere? And if so, why hasn’t she encouraged her daughter to join a network intended just for her daughter, instead of one for adults?  I’m going to guess the answer is: because her daughter’s friends aren’t yet members of Yoursphere.  While 87% of Yoursphere memberships are initiated by kids (and 13% by parents), I plan on asking her these questions, and I’ll keep you updated here on this article.

For you, my question is: What would you do if you were in Christina’s shoes? Knowing what she knows, would you give into the pressure?  

As always, I’d love to know what you think so please share your thoughts.

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  • Mary Kay,
    I think a key point here is the united we stand divided we fall theory. Parents who work only with their child are often divided by all the parents of their kids friends (who are also working alone facing the same pressures).
    If parents collaborate and help get all (or many)of the kids onto a more productive, age appropriate social network the pressure on one parent is much smaller and a trend can build as these kids rope in even more friends.
    Far too few parents realize there are great tween alternatives to Facebook and this is primarily an awareness building issue. It’s a shame that Facebook doesn’t help by pointing underage youth to alternative age appropriate sites, and it’s an avenue worth exploring with them. If they genuinely don’t want the under 13’s on their site, they should embrace helping these kids find great alternatives.

  • Mary Kay ~
    I love how you raise the valid points of the way marketing happens on the web.
    It is hard, my teenager {now 17} has faced many challenges with social sites – thus my expertise in the space.
    What I think a lot of parents tend to loose sight of is the social skills we bring to the experience as adults {we have decades under our belt, while the kids don’t have any}.
    When we see an info-mercial we immediately have the subconscious thought of “they’re trying to sell me something” while kids have the immediate thought of “wow! that will solve a problem” or “wow! how cool, I want one!”.
    We all have to earn our insights by experiencing the challenges {ex: I spent my hard earned allowance on THAT? It broke within 5 min of using it! What a waste!}
    I get it – our kids are growing up in a much different society, a digital society. And we adults don’t know how to bridge the gap. Vigilance is only part of the answer. Patience, knowledge and compassion are the rest.
    I have been one of your biggest cheerleaders from the beginning. And found the disconnect for my youngest {now 12} was his own friends missing on YourSphere. Not to his lack of trying, mind you. But as he transitioned over to FB we used A LOT of the conversations from our YourSphere experience to help him have a frame of reference in a broader platform.
    Thank you for your advocacy & continued conversation on such an important topic for our next generations.

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