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photo: Mihai Simonia/shutterstock

Does your child have a Facebook account?

My oldest is almost 11 and last night we had the "Facebook talk." Right now, her mother and I aren't completely comfortable with the idea of her getting on Facebook without laying some ground rules. For example: she can only be "friends" with people that have the same last name as us, one of her friends from school, and another friend on her team. Mom and Dad will set up the account. One of us have to be around when she's online. And we can shut it down for any reason, at any time.

I felt like a lawyer after the talk.

Today I decided to do a little research… I started by Googling "kids on Facebook." A page full of "why you kid shouldn't be on Facebook" stared back at me on the screen. I did find one article helpful. The Huffington Post listed the Pro's and Con's:

1. Social skills Facebook allows kids to keep up with current friends and make new ones. When used in the right way, social media can increase a child's self-esteem and help them feel less isolated.
2. Self-expression A Facebook page gives a child her own "home page" on the web, where she can express herself and talk about her interests. She can join groups and support fan pages, and find out what other people are interested in.
3. Digital competence Managing a Facebook page teaches a child how to post comments and photos, and how to navigate the Web. Having good online social media skills will be increasingly important as they get older.
4. Educational development A majority of tweens and teens use social networking to discuss school work. Shared discussions about school assignments is one of the best reasons to allow access to social networks.

1. Kids can be mean However much you school your child on the right way to behave online, you cannot stop other children from posting mean comments.
2. A Facebook account is a gateway to the whole Internet It's impossible to isolate a Facebook account from the rest of the Internet -- links and click-through ads are everywhere. If you think your child is too young to explore the Internet or cannot be trusted to remain within the Facebook environment, then a Facebook account is a bad idea.
3. Beware of friends of friends Often times it's not your child's friends who are the problem, it's friends of friends. When your child accepts a friend request, make sure you check out their page and their list of friends. (If you are friends with your child, you need to be careful with your page too!)

Pretty basic stuff.

According to Facebook: "In order to be eligible to sign up for Facebook, you must be at least 13 years old." Hmm. Something tells me that there must be a TON of parents who have broken this rule. In my opinion, I'd rather set my child up with a Facebook account before they are 13 than give them their own cell phone.

What say you?