WJBF EXTRA: Too Young For Facebook

WJBF EXTRA: Too Young For Facebook (Image 1)

By Jillian Benfield

Here, Cara Doran's job is all about peace. As a massage therapist, Cara helps others relax, but, when the lights turn on and Cara gets online…it's hard to keep that feeling of zen.

“Were you angry?” we asked. “Absolutely,” she said.

Cara is talking about how she felt when one of her relatives created Facebook pages for her three children, all of them under the age of 10.

Cara's kids are not alone. Out of the 800 million people on Facebook…5 million of them are children who are 10 or younger.

“It takes a lot of monitoring, if you are going to allow them that social media,” Cara said.

Dr. Dale Peeples is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Georgia Health Sciences University. He says he fact that 5 million kids are on Facebook is concerning. “It's a questionable message parents are sending their children when they are explicitly breaking the rules to access the site,” he said.

Facebook has become a big part of Dr. Peeples' job. When children check-in to see him for treatment, they are asked about their social media use. “I have seen children who have experienced bullying. I've also seen children who have made statements on facebook and then receiving mental health services,” he said.

Dr. Peeples says seeing underage kids on Facebook is concerning in three more ways: it's more screen time, exposure to marketing, and children could get into trouble for making inappropriate comments. That's one thing Cara has seen. She calls it Facebook bashing. “They'll start cussing at each other, essentially. There are a lot of parent that don't even monitor that their kids have a Facebook, much less what's actually on their Facebook,” she said.

“Children haven't developed the social skills to navigate some of the challenges they might encounter,” said Dr. Peeples.

Cara says there are some positives to allowing her children have accounts. She says it's easier for them to stay in touch with their older sister who lives in Florida. But, she says the negatives outweigh the positives.

“Bottom line, would you recommend this or not?” we asked Cara. “Um, no, absolutely not,” she responded.

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