Facebook and the New Generation

My little brother just turned 10 last week and has increasingly been talking about facebook. He sits and watches my mom while she occassionally checks hers, he takes her Blackberry and BBMs a family friend and keeps telling me how he wants facebook because “all his friends are on”. I dont suppose it is a good influence that both myself and the middle sibling spend much of our days on facebook either. A couple of days ago, I found out my father had set him up with a facebook account.

“WHY???” I asked. “He’s 10!!”. “But his friends are on,” my dad said. I find this whole young children on facebook thing somewhat bothering. It shows how much and how fast the world is changing. I signed up for facebook when I was 17, yet at that stage facebook was only starting up and arriving on our Southern African shores. Now that times are different, and everyone is on facebook, is it such a problem when children who are only just maturing into the age of double-digits are immersed into this new world?

Perhaps I’m just being overprotective of my little brother (who is 11 years younger than me) as facebook is a dark and scary place, lacking privacy of any kind. I’m not worried that he is going to befriend a 37 year old paedophile, perhaps it is more the excessive exposure which the internet brings to users. Before this, he would just play kiddie games on the internet, now with facebook and games on there, who knows what he will find?

It bothers me though with the ammount of young children on facebook who befriend every adult they know. Their parents friends, their friends’ parents and even adults in the community. Looking at my brothers friends (I havent added him on facebook) I see he has added a woman within the community who adds everyone. She spends much of her life on facebook talking to everyone and everyone she has on her friends list who happens to be online. Even a friend of mine the other day said this woman randomly speaks to her all the time, but they never see each other, would never speak in real life and aren’t even the remotest definition of “friends”. This woman has tried to add me many times, and because I do not like to clutter my list of facebook friends (because that is the distinction – friends vs facebook friends) I have ignored her each time without any feelings of remorse. Because we are not friends. At all.

My mom told me my brother added this woman to get to her sisters child. Explain to me how that is going to help him? Which adult is going to have their sister’s chlid at their house chilling on their facebook account? No. Sorry. If the kid is on facebook, add them, fine, chat. But don’t add the kids aunt. A random adult. And worse yet, dont chat to her! You don’t know each other and have nothing to do with each others lives! Thats another thing that bugs me, because he is a little child (c’mon, 10 is still little) he has no concept of when or who he should speak to. It also perhaps comes from the fact that he spends a lot of time with adults. My middle brother and myself are often out or busy and can’t look after the little one, so my parents often take him with them, only holiday, to friends, to dinner with friends…But for him to sit on facebook and bother these adults frustrates me, he should learn better, a parent cant facilitate what he does on facebook – unless they block him off it completely. He also added a cousin of ours from overseas, she’s in her 30s, married, with 3 kids. They’ve never met. On the one hand I suppose its sweet, forming a connection and what not. But what are they going to speak about aside for “Hows mom? Hows dad? Hows this one, that one, etc?” I feel it is indecent for little children to encroach on the time of adults.

Him being on facebook also definetelly has something to do with the age we live in. Back in the day when I was 10, we had 1 household computer for everyone. My brother (the middle one, this little one wasn’t even born when I was 10) and I would play games, we didnt have or have the need for email (which my little brother now clearly has his own email, because you need one to be linked to social media sites such as facebook) and had to make time to share the computer. We had endless fights. At one points parents friend’s suggested we each have our own days for the computer. What a disaster! Nowadays, we have many computers in the house. Actually, we dont. We have many laptops in the house. 3. My dads (which he leave in the lounge the whole day), my old one (which lies unused in my parents room) and my own – all of which can be used in he privacy of ones bedroom. The middle brother has his own computer in his bedroom, so even though its a desktop pc which in prior years would have been placed in an open part of the house to be shared, it may as well be a laptop used in the privacy of his room. And now that each family has so many computers, of course my little brother is going to have use of one and if everyone else is on facebook – well, I suppose he is now too.

My brother always used to annoy us with the sounds of guitar. The child is obsessed and on the morning of his birthday I was woken by 6:30 to the sounds of yet another guitar for his birthday. Though now, the sound of the guitar doesn’t seem too bad in retrospect. I would much prefer him playing that noise (its actually not “noise” as the kid is an absolutely incredible guitar player) that spending all his time in front of a laptop on facebook. Yes, that is often what myself, my other brother and many other people are age are doing. It doesn’t make it right. But it doesn’t stop us from doing what we know is a waste of our time either. I suppose I would just prefer to save him from the procrastination, and let him get on with his life and actually achieve things in his life.

I don’t know whether I am right for having these thoughts or have mentioned above, perhaps I am simply being overprotective, or I think facebook is for “older” people. I’m sure at a point there was a thing you had to be over like 16 to sign up? I understand the need for “constant communication” between friends, especially in the holidays. But still. I wonder if facebook were around in my day would I have been signed on when I was 10? Times are so different. The technological age is forever advancing…and to think when I was 10, we probably only got our first computer.