This must be my facebook week. A parent recently asked me what she should do about her 12 year old daughter who refused to give this mom her facebook password. If you have a 12 year old on facebook, than absolutely you must have access to their password.(see yesterday's blog for a good example) At this age, kids do really really stupid things, even more stupid than if they were 16. At 12 most kids are at what I call the "as if" stage. They are acting "as if " they were older teens. Asking for and wanting privileges that are given to older teens. They are dressing like older teens especially girls who look for sexy tops and shorts to make them appear sexier and older. Also they are trying to act "as if" they are older teens, by being sexually provocative, using a lot of colorful language, and doing anything to make them feel cooler and older than they actually are. This goes for both boys and girls. This is why if your young teen is on facebook, you must be completely on top of supervising him or her.
I cautioned the mom against forbidding her daughter to go on facebook. If this teen is already a regular user, and mom forces her to close down her account, she probably will just go underground and go on it when she is at a friends house, where mom has no accessibility. So parents, you may have to suck it up if your teen has already started her facebook career, but you don't have to feel helpless to intervene if your teen is being obnoxiously withholding.
Here is what you can say: " I get you feel that giving me your facebook password is intruding on your privacy, but refusing to share it with me, or refusing to go on with me so I can check and make sure there is nothing on your wall that is unsafe or disrespectful, is a sign that you are hiding something from me. Learning to be on facebook takes some training on what you can and cannot put up there. Think of it like learning to drive safely. This takes time. You must take a class and drive with an instructor and your parents for 6 months. Learning to be on facebook safely takes time too. So, from now on you will only be able to use the computer in the kitchen or dining room where dad and I can supervise you. And only for short periods of time, maybe a total of 30 minutes a day."
Your teen will moan and groan, and you can be sympathetic that yes, things are different and will be hard to get used to. You don't have to go to the " this is the way it is, and if you don't like it you don't have to use the computer at all" place. That just keeps your teen angry and motivated to find a way around the new rules. Empathy has a much bigger payoff for cooperation!