The following was syndicated from Quora for The Fatherly Forum, a community of parents and influencers with insights about work, family, and life. If you’d like to join the Forum, drop us a line at [email protected].
Should I ban my children from using Facebook?
As a parent, you are a never-ending vaccine. An inoculation. What is a vaccine? It is a preventative treatment against disease that prepares the immune system for future attack.
Ergo, in life, your job is — in short — to prepare your children for future exposure to danger. Do your job right, and your child is prepared for the fight. Do your job wrong, and they are defeated by the dangers of the world. “Banning” a thing — something that is not specifically and visibly harmful; something that is now a piece of the fabric of our life — fails in this regard.
So, if you ban your kid from ever using Facebook, you won’t help prepare them for all the dangers it holds (online bullying is a HUGE deal these days). Then, when they finally do get exposed, they won’t be prepared for it. Use this as a tool to teach. Not to build walls. So, you have to be the vaccine.
When I was a kid, there was this really profane musical band called “Luke Skywalker and the Two Live Crew” that sang about vulgar sex, rape, and other worthless themes. My best friend and I listened to them because — well — they were sort of “forbidden fruit” back then. Both of our dads caught us and the results could not have been more different.
My dad burned the tape and forbade me from ever listening to them. I got some lame Christian speech and was told about what sort of punishment I’d get. Really religious people tend to think that “banning” a thing (and subsequently burning that thing — a book, a record, etc.) solves the problem; it’s something Churches have been doing for two thousand years. Thinking that his lesson sunk in, my father went back to his business and I just borrowed a friend’s tape and recorded over my Beethoven tape — something my father never expected.
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EglOsfErtaE expand=1]
My best friend’s dad listened to the tape and did something different. He sat down with my friend and they wrote the lyrics out together. He explained the meaning of the words to my friend in very great detail. When he realized that the explanation wasn’t having the right effect, he took my friend to a rape crisis center to understand what rape was about. My friend came home and threw the tape away on his own, but even if he didn’t—he was now aware of the the harm it could do. There was no getting around the profound effect that the experience had on him. He grew from it as a person. His father utilized the experience to help him grow rather than place a bubble around him and preach religious nonsense to him.
If you’re a parent, you have to stay a step ahead of life. It’s tough, but my hunch is you have to understand the dangers of Facebook and be close enough with your kid so that you can help inoculate them from trouble that might come their way. If you attempt to build a wall or shut something down, your kid will do a one-around you and do it anyway. Except this time, it will be in secret and without your guidance. So, my guess is, it’s better to use the experience to help mature your kid rather than just look for a quick and easy solution.
Dan Holliday is currently finishing his bachelors of computer science and have transitioned from being a third-party recruiter to an internal executive recruiter for one of the US’s leaders in chemicals & manufacturing. You can read more Quora posts here:
- What movies from this decade will be the pop culture classics of the next generation, like The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Back to the Future?
- I want my 6 week old daughter to be president of United States when she grows up. What can I do to help her prepare during her growth years?