Children And Facebook – What Parent’s Need To Know

Parents/Guardians: What You Need To Know About Your Child’s First Facebook Account.

 

Facebook is a semi-private platform used as a way to communicate and share personal information with other users.  There are many risks associated with sharing information through Facebook.  Below are a list of things that all parents need to know about their child’s Facebook accounts.  Between cyberbullying and other internet hazards social media sites pose, being educated about social media could prevent a potential bad situation from happening to your own child.

  • Below is just some of the personal data users have the ability to post and share on Facebook:
    • Their Full Name
    • Their Phone Number(s)
    • Home Town And State
    • City/State Where You Currently Live
    • Current And Previous School Information As Well As Addresses
    • Curriculum Studied
    • Current And Previous Employment Information
    • Groups/Organizations You Are Associated With
    • Interests
    • Relationship Status And Whether You Are Interested In Meeting New People, Interested In Men/Women And More.
    • Family Members On Facebook
    • Your Birthday And Age
    • Photos And Videos
    • Status Updates
    • There Is Even A Section On Your Profile Page Called Personal.  These Are Empty Fields Where A User Can Enter Anything They Want.
  • Privacy Settings
    • Facebook does in fact offer various privacy settings for users.  Unfortunately, it is very difficult to keep up with the frequent changes Facebook makes to their privacy settings and adjust individual user settings according to each change.
    • Privacy settings should be set to “only my friends,” or “no one.”
  • Photos
    • Facebook creates a digital link between your name and your photo.  What this means for the user:
      • Your photo can be accessed through the Internet by entering your name in a search engine.
      • Entering your name in a search engine may show your profile picture.
      • If a user decides to click on your picture, they could access more personal information about you.
    • Users have the option to set their account to public or private, limiting the number of users that can view their albums and pictures.  Unfortunately, users do not have the ability to “opt out” of their profile picture being publicly accessible.
      • The only way to prevent your profile picture from being public is by never uploading a profile picture.
    • Tagging Pictures – Users may “tag” pictures of another user, which associates the “tagged” users name with the picture.  What this means for the user:
      • Once a picture is tagged, it is displayed on the ”tagged” user’s profile wall. 
      • Facebook users do have the opportunity to approve all “tagged” pictures prior to the picture being displayed on their wall.  If the user does not approve the “tagged” picture, it will not be displayed on their wall.  The user that posted the picture can still post it on their wall but the “tagged” user’s name will not be visible.
  • Facebook Messaging System – Facebook has a messaging system that combines texting, instant messaging and email into a streamlined method of communication.  Whether a user prefers one or the other, they are able to communicate however they please.
  • The “Facebook Timeline” – Profile pages offer a “Facebook Timeline” which allows viewers to know your current whereabouts as well as a timeline of past events.  It creates an on line journal of your life for other Facebook users.
  • Games And Applications– Facebook gives users the ability to participate in virtual games and add applications to their profiles.  Through participation, the user’s visibility increases, and personal information is not only shared with strangers but interaction is possible as well.    
    • The dangers of some Apps:
      • Regardless of whether you press the “Like” or “Share” button, some Apps will allow viewers to see articles you read on line, concert or other event tickets you purchase and more.
    • Numerous Facebook Applications have also been found to be a hoax.   Some of these Applications, when downloaded, have given hackers access to the user profiles and personal information.  A few have even been able to forward messages to additional friends, in turn giving the hacker access to multiple user profiles.
  • Events – Facebook allows users to create an event, whether it is a celebration or a simple get together.  The organizer can invite any of their Facebook friends or make the event public.  By accepting the invitation, this too will appear on your profile page for others to view.

The list of potential hazards are long.  If your child wants a Facebook account, it is important to educate them and make sure that you friend them as well.  Children who have parents as friends on Facebook are less likely to socially network the wrong way.  The key is to keep the lines of communication open with your child.

A few great books on this topic are listed for you below :)

The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook, and Social Media

The Buzz About Social Media: A Cyber Safety Workbook and Discussion Guide for Pre-Teens, Ages 8-12

A Smart Girl’s Guide to the Internet (American Girl Library)

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