What Do You Get When You Combine 3 Pre-Teens and Common Sense?
No Facebook accounts.
Unfortunately common sense seems to be the missing part of the equation, as kids under 13 with Facebook accounts is a steadily rising population, according to the latest poll from Reuters showing that 17 percent of parents are ok with 10-12 year-old children having an account on Facebook or Myspace.
Two parents that are likely to drop out of this 17 percent are the parents of Leslie Cote, 12, who was harassed on Facebook by two classmates, aged 11 and 12. Her parents told reporters in the Seattle area that the incident left her in tears and unable to sleep for weeks. None of the three children should have been allowed any access to the site at all, according to Facebook’s Terms and Conditions which state that no one under the age of 13 is allowed to have an account.
The older of the two bullies is now facing charges of first-degree computer trespass and cyberstalking in juvenile court. That’s right, the 12-year-old recently entered a not guilty plea. 12.
The not-guilty plea is unfortunate as both girls have already admitted to police that they accessed Leslie Cote’s Facebook page, which they were able to do after she accidentally saved her login information on one of their computers. If convicted the bully could face 30 days in juvenile detention.
I have to wonder what benefit, to either the bullies or the victim, Facebook access provided them that is worth this amount of trouble. One girl with her reputation ruined and her psyche inexorably damaged, another facing charges in juvenile court, and a third possibly facing charges if she is determined to have known her actions were wrong.
Kids say “I want” a lot. My two-year-old says it in regards to everything from candy to my Leatherman tool. Part of being a parent is knowing when to refuse your child for their own good. I don’t claim to know the challenges of dealing with a preteen but I have seen, time and time again, the consequences of giving in to their demands to be on a social network before they are ready. Saying no again and again may be hard, harder than I know, but I can’t imagine it is much harder than what the parents of these three young girls are dealing with now.