Does your teenager use Facebook? With approximately one billion users worldwide, chances are your teen is already active in the social network. Like every community, Facebook can become a source of threats for youngsters. These threats include online bullying, reputation damage, becoming addicted and not engaging in other activities, as well as being exposed to inappropriate images or text. In some worst case scenarios, children were victimized by people that they initially met in the social network.
In this article we provide parents some tips that will help them protect their teens.
First of all, make sure your teen has provided Facebook the correct date of birth. We advise that teens and Facebook users in general, don’t publish the year of birth (day and month are fine) in order to keep this information protected. Either way, it is important that Facebook has the correct DOB in its database so that additional protective measures are enabled for users that are less than 17 years old.
Monitor your teen’s activities by using your own Facebook account (create one if you don’t have). If you want to have read access to your teen’s Timeline, you will have to be his/her friend on Facebook. This should be easy enough to establish if you play cool, but it could be very hard to regain if you make a mistake by posting something embarrassing on your teen’s Timeline. If your teen does not want to be “friends” with you on Facebook, you can try creating a fake account (use a photo of a nice girl if you have a son, or vice versa) and sending an invite from there. Your last resort are online reputation monitoring services that will track posts by your teen.
You should be aware that, even if you are your teen’s friend on Facebook, some or all of your teen’s activity could be hidden from you if your teen is using privacy filters that leave you out of the party.
Not surprisingly, most of your work in supervising your teen’s activities on Facebook, should take place offline. Discuss with your teens about their latest discoveries on the social network – whether that is a photo where they were tagged or a cool new application they installed. Keep your ears and eyes open for anything that could hurt your child’s reputation (now or in the future) or compromise sensitive information.
Make sure your teen knows that the Timeline cover of his/her profile is public and anybody can see it by searching for his/her name online. Some kids think that covers are private and only for friends to see, which is far from the truth. You can consider using a service such as foobcovers.com to create Facebook covers that fully comply with Facebook policy.
Try to find out what groups your teen is a member of. Most of the time, there is nothing to worry about but in some cases your teen’s memberships in certain group may raise a red flag and provide you with early warning signs.
Finally, parents should not act as if they know everything about their teen’s activities online (which they most likely don’t anyways). Keep some or most of the knowledge for yourself or you will face the risk that your teen will feel like his/her privacy is threatened and will make your job as a “detective” harder in the future.
If you are looking for a detailed guide to Facebook for parents, we recommend the iKeepSafe guide.
Filed under Parenting Information, Parenting Teens, safety | Tags: facebook advice for parents, facebook safety tips for parents, internet safety tips for parents, is facebook safe for teenagers, monitor your children online, parents and social networking, social media and parenting | Comment (0)