On Noah’s first birthday, I opened him a Facebook account.
Yeah, you heard me. When he turned one, I turned on the big blue button for him, and I’ve never regretted it.
He’s five now. And he has no clue what Facebook is. He’s still at the point where the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse website is all he really needs or wants.
But in the background, something kind of neat is happening.
His life is being digitally scrapbooked for him.
I have a big family. Nine brothers and sisters, a bazillion cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and of course my mom and dad (the coolest grandparents evah). That means we do a lot of stuff. And when we do stuff, cameras always come out.
He also has his mom and stepdad, and their siblings, and their family, and their parents, and their friends. And believe me, I’ve seen cameras come out on that side of the fence plenty of times, too.
Now, I’m a creative bloke. I’m artistic. But I’m also too busy to learn how to scrapbook, nor would I ever do it if I did have time. Some parents (like my sister) are incredible scrapbookers and at any time they can pull out one of a thousand scrapbooks of their kids and see what was going on in their lives at any point in time.
I’m never going to have that.
Unless I get onto Facebook.
You see, whenever I take pictures of Noah, I tag him in them. Whenever his mom or stepdad take pictures, he gets tagged. Whenever my parents or his mom’s parents take pictures, he gets tagged. Whenever his aunts and uncles take pictures, he gets tagged.
Same goes for videos.
As of this moment, there are 2,280 photos and videos of Noah on his Facebook account. When I open his photos page, and start scrolling down I see the daddy-son date we had last weekend. I see moments with his new baby brother, soccer games, parties with cousins, Nana camps, projects with his stepdad, dates with his aunt Amy, outings with Buddha, his Halloween costumes, times we played in the snow, boating excursions, camping, and more. I see the first time I gave him a haircut, his first rodeo, and the first time I took him to Disneyland. And since I caught him up when I opened his account, I can actually go back and see his baby photos, his big developmental milestones, and clear back to when he was covered with goop, only seconds old.
With the click of a button, I can watch videos of him opening presents, laughing, destroying his first birthday cake, and having complete meltdowns as a two-year old.
And you know what, I love that I can do all that. I love that when I’m missing my kid, I can within seconds have so much of him at my fingertips.
I love that when he turns 18, I will be able to hand him his entire life, documented from day one, and tell him to “take good care of it.”
I love that I get to see photos that I might not ever have seen if I didn’t have the account. I get to see some of the fun things he gets to do when he’s not with me. I get to see some of the people he loves that I don’t really know. I get to see a big part of what makes my son that I might not otherwise have experienced or even known about.
And yes, I’ve heard parents decry Facebook for children. I’ve heard people shout out all sorts of things about privacy issues, and sex predators, and you name it.
Am I worried?
Because I have control of it.
I set the privacy settings.
I have the login information.
I control who sees what.
I control who his “friends” are.
I control what stays and what gets removed.
I control it all.
I know who to trust and who not to trust. I know who to let see things and who not to let see things. I know what should be private and what should be extremely private.
And Facebook has done a good job giving me control of that.
They’ve also done something incredible with their new Timeline feature. They’ve given parents like me a chance to really make a cool “digital scrapbook.” I can add life events, and make it all pretty and snazzy and jazzy. And one of these days when I have a free couple of hours to spare, I’ll jump on that, too.
What they haven’t offered is a way for parents like me to do it without telling a fib. I had to tell an untruth about Noah’s birth year when I signed him up. And while I see a real need for Facebook not to be made openly available to young people (I actually think the current minimum age is too young), I think they should create an option for parents who want to own and control accounts for their children and who want to start documenting their children’s lives the way I have Noah’s.
So, yeah. I opened a Facebook account for my kid on his first birthday. And I’ve never regretted it.
How about you. Do any of you have Facebook accounts for your young children? Do you see the value in starting an account for them when they’re young? Do you think it’s risky or dangerous or do you think a parent who wants to can control it just fine?
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
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