Recently at my nearby public library I overheard a conversation between two parents. Discussing a fairly well-known website and its age requirements, one parent commented that she was not letting her child use the site because the rules said users must be 13, and her child was not yet 13. The other parent, whose child was in the same grade, thought that the age limits were ridiculous, so she allows her child to sign up and pretend to be age 13. “We are just fudging a bit,” she said (laughed).
My question — is this just fudging, or is a parent sending a message that it is OK to put false data into website information blanks? It’s tricky, because kids eagerly learn things that we don’t intend for them to learn. Even if we think a rule is silly, do we really want to encourage our children to break the rules that they think are silly? Are there other alternatives?