Friday, January 9, 2009

Letting a Kid Spread His Wings

Every once in awhile, you have a chance to see that something you have wanted to impress on someone actually comes to happen. I’m not entirely sure what I have decided to do is a good idea or a bad idea, but it’s how I was convinced to allow it that I want to share.

I’ve been a bit of an ogre when it comes to my kids’ online presence. Personally, I’m a Dysanite when it comes to interacting online (at least I’ve always attributed the following to Esther Dyson… “If you wish to be truly free, one must be 100% open about everything”). Thus I’ve pretty much always operated as an open book as relates to my own online presence. However, I’ve pretty much shot down any of my kids getting online because I was not sure they were able or ready to deal with it.

I told Nick several months ago as he was getting frustrated about my not letting him do certain things and reacting angrily or going off sulking… “dude, if you want to convince me that you should do something, that’s what you need to do… convince me. Not have a tirade, not cop an attitude, and not get in a huff because I don’t see your point of view. Find a way to convince me, and you might be surprised as to what I might do.”

Well, I came home and I found the following on my desk:

Dear Dad.

I am writing this letter to ask you to consider letting me have a Facebook page:

Please consider this:

1. [Friend’s Name] has one and he always talks about it. I promise not to write stupid things or put up any truly personal information (like phone numbers or address).
2. Mom is going to talk to [Friend’s mom] about the rules they have about it.
3. I agreed that mom can see it and check it whenever she wants to.
4. A lot of my friends have one and I want to be able to talk with them.
5. Mom says facebook isn’t as bad as myspace (we already had the myspace discussion, and that was a flat out “no”).
6. I will keep my profile and pictures private.
7. I won’t write anything bad (second time he mentioned this (LOL!)).
8. This is a way to be in touch with my friends and keep in touch with them.
9. I will be responsible.
10. This doesn’t cost any money (ooh, he’s hitting the “frugalist” in me (LOL!) ).
11. I will make sure to add only people I know.
12. I am not going to use this to make friends with strangers.
13. If mom ever sees me doing something wrong, she can take me off facebook.

So, Dad, I am asking for your permission to obtain a facebook page. I know you will make a wise decision, and please contemplate it deeply (most likely – yes :) ).

I Love You,

And thus, I decided to let my son have a Facebook page, with three additional provisos:

1. His “first friend” will be me, with a “know” link that says I’m his Dad (with a fairly obvious connection that his picture is in my own facebook avatar)
2. I have his username and password, and I reserve the right to go in and monitor any and all communication on his page (including his Inbox).
3. I have editing right to change, remove, or block anything in he site that does not meet my approval.

I agreed to this for one reason and one reason only… he convinced me. He is now realizing that sulking, tantrums, or “buttering up” doesn’t work with me, but showing he has a game plan and understands the ramifications of what he may or may not do most certainly does. My goal all of these years has been to help my son grow up to make ethical choices and to understand the responsibilities that surround them. I certainly hope that this will not be one of those times where I think to myself “oh man I shouldn’t have done that”, but for now, I’m feeling pretty good about this decision. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.


Crystal said...

I actually this its a good idea. How you and Christina are going about it is awesome.

SevenVillageIdiarts said...

Wow, he's so mature. . . that was a great post. My Emma wants the same thing and I should try and get a similar response from her. I like the way you both handled this, good parenting! If I let her on, we'll have to have them be "facebook friends."