Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Facebook: The Project — A Parent’s Friend or Foe

I like bloggers whose posts interesting, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. Who impress me with insight rather than overwhelm me with volume. Rebecca Miller at The Sandwiched Homeschooler is one such blogger.

Facebook's policy requires users to be at least 13 years old. Of course, I am well aware that many pre-teens circumvent this policy, often with their parents' conscious assistance. I think that's foolish. For those who choose to abide by the rules, the question remains: Is it wise for a teen to have a Facebook account?

I have mixed feelings about Facebook. On the one hand, it has allowed me to restore and maintain contact with extended family scattered all over the world. On the other hand, there are privacy concerns: Facebook's default settings are always the most social and least private. Even when I select which information I want private, Facebook changes my settings without my knowledge or consent, (I find these changes later, after Facebook has quietly changed them.) and publishes information I had specifically asked them to keep private, for example, my cell phone number. And I have seen Facebook used to bully, especially among the young, and have seen it used fraudulently, usually for revenge.

Some people downplay these concerns, insisting that you have control over who sees your information, since you choose whom to friend or not to friend. Rebecca and her sons conducted an experiment to see just how much privacy teens have on Facebook. I found the results interesting.

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