Jumping Online: Is Facebook Really Part of Puberty?

I got a text message last night from my son.  That in itself isn’t unusual – he’s pretty good about checking in on a regular basis.  He’s been away at camp for a week, and he fills me in on what he’s doing, what the weather is like, the quality of the food, and how he can’t wait to come home and play baseball, and that he misses me.

What was unusual about last night’s text is that out of the blue, he asked to join Facebook.  It took me by surprise – he hasn’t indicated much interest in the past, and in fact, when I asked him in the spring if he had any friends who had it, he said no.

I guess he’s made some new friends at camp.

I immediately texted my daughter – being the 16-year-old social network expert that she is – and asked her to remind me how old she was when she “got” Facebook.  7th grade.  That didn’t give me much ammunition against his foray into the networking world.  Where can I find online reputation management for 13-year-olds?

The texting from my son continued with clever attempts to sway me with promises of all the fun we’d have once he was online, and how we’d be more connected, too.

Hit me where it hurts, kid.  What mom doesn’t want to be more connected to their teenager?

And after all, he pleaded, he’s the only family member who cannot get “tagged” in photos or “checked-in” whenever we visit some exciting locale.

It’s not that I wasn’t expecting this – I actually am surprised it took him so long to ask.

I told him to ask his dad, who apparently was obliviously sitting beside him in the van while he was chatting with me, unaware of the uncharted waters we were about to dive into.

Ingeniously, my boy responded that it only matters what I say, and that I’ll see everything he’ll be doing.  It’ll be fun, he urged, knowing that I was close to the breaking point.


And with those two little letters, our conversation ceased with a “Goodnight, mom. I love you.”

That’s it.  He’s passed through the innocence of childhood and entered that frightening arena that all parents dread.

Give me puberty any day – I’m much more prepared to discuss issues of young love than deliver the woes of social media.

Can’t wait for all that fun.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. The middle school years are hard enough without adding online issues…My daughter is 13 and wants to get a facebook account REALY BAD (she knows how to nag and whine), but I’ve told her no way. I don’t care that her friends are on it…Believe me, they have ways of making you think you know what they’re up to online when you don’t. My son is 16 and came home saying that he NEEDED a fecebook account. I told him okay, but I’d have his passwords, be on his friends list, etc etc, blah blah blah. He got on, set the account up, and started looking at what his friends had put up. After about 15 minutes he said “this is stupid” and deleted the account completely. Hahahahaha! He does other things online but isn’t on facebook at all. The issue that I have with letting 13 yr olds on, is that they really don’t have the maturity to realize the extent that their internet footprint will have. No matter what you do there will be a time when they post something inappropriate. Make sure that all of your relatives are their friends too, so that they can report back if something looks fishy! I just remembered that my nephew had posted something to his cousin that was inappropriate, I can’t remember what it was or who started it. But what happened was about three or four adults jumped into the thread and told them that they expected them to behave better than that, and it was squelched right away. If you do let them on, set the privacy controls to the max and keep an eye on it.

  2. My 13yo did the same thing. He was at his dad when he texted me about Facebook. My first reaction was “no.” he took it well, then his dad called pleading. All his friends had it. We could monitor it. All of his firsts get to happen at my house, not his. Fine already!
    I was a nervous wreck at first, monitoring constantly. Then I rrealized that other than adding friends and commenting on pictures, he rarely used it. I think it really was more of the bonding experience with dad. It’s an odd thing, but perhaps THAT is a sign of the times.

  3. Sometimes I see my nieces on FB, and it is just shocking…to me at least. I kind of missed this with my step-daughters. My space had just begun, and now they are adults to handle all of it. It is such a different world! Is there a how to parent with Facebook best seller yet?

    1. Courtney, I think that is a great idea for a book! I, too, see things on FB that make me cringe, but I also see a cool way to interact. I guess it’s all in how you teach them, right?

  4. Oh how I dread this coming my way. Perhaps when my kids reach 13, Facebook won’t be “in” anymore. Though I’m sure it will probably be replaced with something equally as scary. Maybe this will give you a chance to get to know a different side of your son!

  5. Oh my… I’m so not ready for what you’re going through. I have a three year old and a seven year old. My seven year old is asking when she can have a FB account. I’m tempted to say never, but I know that’s not the right response. After all, she sees me on FB frequently, even posting pictures of her and her sister. I’m just going to breathe deeply and rest in the fact that by the time she’s old enough for her own FB account there will be some great, new technology out that she’ll want more access to than FB and I’ll have to be freaked about that. Haha!


    1. Rosann, you’re so right about new technology…who knows what it will be like in a few years. We definitely have to choose our battles – I agree saying never is prob. not the right choice, as she will figure out a way to get it anyway. Might as well be a part of it with her, right?

  6. …sigh! that.is.all.

    oh and bless you!

    PS. thank goodness for computer monitoring stuff, right?! I have awhile…sigh! 🙂

  7. Wow! Can’t wait to see how you get through it! I’m determined my daughter won’t have it until she’s married with at least 5 kids!

  8. My oldest son (16) created a t-shirt on Zazzle that reads, “I don’t need a Facebook account to like something.” ; ) That’s as far as he’s gone with Facebook. My younger son (14) is on, but hasn’t had any problems. My daughter will likely get on as soon as she turns 13. What’s fun is my 14 y.o. made a friend in England through video games. They talk nearly every day. I hope they get to meet sometime.
    Online media has been fine for us. I keep a close eye on it.
    Great post!

  9. The good thing is that he asked you and is wiling to have you as a friend on the site. WE have to trust that we have raised good kids – not to bully others or give their personal info out on the web. I’m sooooo not ready for it either! Good luck and keep us posted!

    1. Yes, Leigh, we do have to trust in their goodness-I really think that is the key. Teaching them to do the right thing, on and offline, is really, really important!

  10. Oh my. My son is getting ready to enter the second grade. So why is my heart palpitating? I’m not ready for you either! I think its great he texted and asked. My plan is to stay on top of technology to be in the know. Who knows what will be the thing when it’s Christopher’s turn. As parents I think it is just important for us to “really” be apart of their SN. I happen to know a set of parents that is not aware of the kind of the stuff their child does on the interent because they aren’t internet savvy. SMH!

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