Walters siblings Daniel, 5, Jacob, 7, and Tamsyn, 5, are still too young for Facebook, but mum Kerri fears it may not be too far away before it is mentioned in the household.
Walters siblings Daniel, 5, Jacob, 7, and Tamsyn, 5, are still too young for Facebook, but mum Kerri fears it may not be too far away before it is mentioned in the household. Kerri Burns-Taylor

Facebook age ban too ineffective

SUGGESTIONS of removing an age limit of Facebook have caused concern, as yet another page has emerged locally allowing teens to sexually demean their peers online.

Like similar versions before it, the page allows anyone to anonymously submit comments – the majority of which are sexual and derogatory – and are capable of being viewed by anybody visiting the site, regardless of their age.

While the age limit for the social networking site is 13, Facebook creators have called for the limit to be removed and the restriction seems inept, with a small scroll of the mouse all that is needed to up your age a year or two.

Mum of three Kerri Walters said while her children were not yet at an age were Facebook was a regular part of the household vocabulary, she suspected it wouldn’t be long until the topic was raised.

While Mrs Walters said she would consider implementing strategies to monitor her children’s internet usage, she said it was important for children to be given space and allowed to prove they’re trustworthy.

“As a parent you just hope you’ve brought them up right and they will make the right choices,” she said.

“Kids are going to try things. Sometimes you have to let them fall over and get hurt – you just hope it doesn’t hurt them too badly.”

Headspace Darling Downs manager Mark Goddard said the key message was to get teens affected by cyber-bullying to speak about the problem instead of trying to deal with it themselves.

He said teens and children exposed to cyber-bulling were “absolutely” at risk of long-term effects if the issues weren’t addressed.

“People generally deal with this in private and don’t want to share it,” he said.

The issue of whether to Facebook or not Facebook can be a double-edged sword for teens and pre-teens, putting them at risk of detrimental effects either way.

“Peer-group pressure in young people is very serious and those affected may be suffering as many detrimental effects as those exposed to what’s on Facebook,” Mr Goddard said.

“But there are things you can do such as keep ingcomputers in public places of the home and not in the bedroom and say ‘you can have Facebook but make me a friend’.

“Parents should make themselves aware of what’s on these sites, look at the content and what’s appropriate and what isn’t.”

Mr Goddard stressed the key was for parents to open up channels of communication with their children in a non-judgmental way.

“These kinds of sites are always going to be there, it’s about parents or significant others enforcing what’s acceptable and what’s not.”

Banning Facebook for teens was not a realistic solution according to Mr Goddard.

 

Parents’ Tips

  •  Keep the computer in a public place in the home, not in the bedroom
  •  Allow your teens to join Facebook, with the provision they are your “friend”
  •  Install software that allows you to monitor your child’s Facebook activity


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