- Facebook restricts membership to people 13 and older.
- Facebook has created an environment designed only for teens and adults. The rules, policies, protections and safety education that Facebook has in place are all designed for people 13 and older.
- But if they are going to continue despite the site’s restrictions, it’s even more important to help them configure their privacy settings to the most restrictive level possible, and be sure to “friend” them or otherwise monitor their online use.
What are the risks involved in social networking?
- The most common risk young people face online is peer harassment or aggression – in other words hurtful, harassing, or defamatory behaviour.
- Posting information about themselves that: a) could help strangers determine their physical location; b) could be used to manipulate them; or c) whether posted by them or others, could cause psychological harm or jeopardise reputations and future prospects
- Harassment or online bullying (“cyberbullying”) on the part of your children or others’
- Spending too much time online, losing a sense of balance in their activities.
- Exposure to inappropriate content
- Potential for inappropriate contact with adult.
As a parent, you are part of the solution when negative things happen, which is why you need to be informed not just about Facebook or social networking but also (and especially) about your children’s use of them. They need your back-up.
Try not to overreact if something negative happens – another reason why it helps to be informed. An informed parent is a calm parent, and children are more likely to go to their parents when the conversation can stay calm and thoughtful. You can help them more when they choose to come and talk to you, so you’ll want to maximise those opportunities for communication and support.