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September 2, 2009

Faith & Facebook

There's a lot of talk among parents about whether Facebook and other social networking sites are good for young teens.

Personally, I think they're great. My oldest daughter, who just started seventh grade, has kept a Facebook page for several months now. My younger kids in fourth grade and kindergarten? No way -- they'll have to wait.

When Janine launched her Facebook page, I took control of her privacy settings and set the ground rules. For starters, she's required to be "friends" with me and her dad. We've gone over various no-nos: don't approve people you don't know as friends, check with us before you request or approve friends older than you, and be smart about the pictures and links you post.

Beyond having the eyes of her parents on her Facebook page, her pastors and several other adults from our congregation are her Facebook friends, too.

Having them as my daughter's Facebook buddies is a healthy thing for intergenerational bonding. They learn more about my daughter through her posts, and she learns more about them through theirs.

I'm not saying that Facebook friendships are the same as face-to-face relationships. They're not. But I do believe that these sites are valuable and under-utilized tools for giving tweens and teens a sense of place and connectedness to the people with whom they share a community of faith.

What about you? Agree? Disagree?

For more views from parents about the pros and cons of Facebook for young teens, check out these articles by Dr. Wendy Walsh, a clinical psychologist, and Sarah Bowman, the co-Founder of Kids Off the Couch.

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