Kari Henley in the March 22, 2009 Huffington Post writes:
For over 25 million youth, Facebook is replacing email as “the” way to communicate, and parents are often left in the dust and wondering is it safe? What age can kids safely have a Facebook page? Should they insist to be their “Friend” and monitor their endless chatter? *** One day, a call came from the principal informing Jill and her husband, their middle daughter was being given in-school suspension for creating a Facebook group used to make fun of another student. Called something like, “Eric is a Hairy Beast,” the group quickly filled with loads of kids making fun of a quiet Armenian boy, uploading cell phone pictures of him and becoming more brazen by the day. These kids are “A” students, and far from brats; but most are not cognitively developed enough to recognize their behavior is hurtful to others. *** Kids get into trouble with sites like Facebook and MySpace because they are too self-centered in their overall development to understand the impact of what they are doing… Middle school age children are the most susceptible to cyber bullying, and high school students most likely to use poor judgment in giving out information. *** I set about interviewing scores of parents with children from elementary to high school, asking their opinions about Facebook and kids. While most felt it was a relatively safe place for kids to connect to each other, many expressed concern over the obsessive nature of these sites. Designed to be “sticky;” a site is deemed successful the longer it entices you to stay on, yet these hours are replacing other activities critical for healthy development. *** The cyber playground has replaced the physical one, for better or worse. It is our job as parents to make sure their developing brains know how to do more than move a mouse around a keyboard and encourage more face to face social time.