Social networks have taken over millions of households around the world. The ability to share instant updates to all of your friends and family as well as pictures, videos and links has changed our view of the Internet. In the past, email and chat was the digital connection between individuals. Now, with sites like Facebook and MySpace, you can post all of your updates in one spot and everyone can view them instantaneously.
Facebook has really paved the way for all types of people to use the Internet as a communication tool. But, not only can you connect to your family, but you can keep your children connected as well. On a recent trip to my in-laws across the country from us, my mother-in-law would get online to ‘feed her fish’ and keep up with her multiple Facebook applications. My five year old daughter would sit on her lap, and play right along with her. It was a great bonding tool for them, but I also recognized something deeper.
Sharing your account with your child is a scary thought, but it does force you into actually participating with them while they are on the computer.
When we returned from our visit, my daughter insisted that we set up an aquarium and buy some fish. She sits with me on the computer, feeds her fish, cleans her fish tank, buys food and additional fish. She checks on her grandma’s fish, and helps clean other people’s tank. Every day she is reminding me that ‘she needs to feed her fish.’ She posts messages to her grandma and keeps in constant contact. In the past, they went a year without seeing each other. Now they can still stay connected through a fun game.
Facebook applications are a wonderful tool for children. Facebook is only available to those aged 13 and over. Sharing your account with your child is a scary thought, but it does force you into actually participating with them while they are on the computer. I have returned to my account only to notice that I have posted multiple ‘fish’ spam regarding how much money I’ve earned or what level I am.
A surprising benefit to using Facebook apps, and others like it, is that it is secretly teaching her responsibility. It is preparing her to care for real pets and other people. She has gotten into a routine of caring for others. The lesson of empathy is priceless and a crucial step in the development of young children. Who would have thought something as simple as a Facebook app would instill that in a young person!