Facebook Guide (2021): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

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Facebook Guide (2021): What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

November 4, 2021

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Facebook can be a great tool to help students Shine Online, even if they don’t want to use it to be social online. Parents, educators, and students will learn how to set up and use Facebook to create a positive online presence. 

What is Facebook?

  • It’s a free online social media app that lets people connect with “Friends”
  • Users can share text posts, photos, and videos for Friends or strangers to see
  • The Feed is a mix of content generated by “Friends” and ads or sponsored posts
  • Users can also watch livestreams and “stories,” play games, find events, and shop the Marketplace
  • Meta (formerly Facebook, Inc.)owns the following: Facebook,  Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus VR, Workplace, Facebook Gaming, Portal, Calibra, and others
  • Facebook accounts can also be used to create many other accounts with services like Pinterest, Medium, TikTok, and more

Why should parents care?

Facebook icon
  • Strangers can send students Friend and or instant messaging requests
  • Students can be “tagged” in public photos, which will appear in Google results for your student’s name
  • Many people overshare on Facebook posts, which could lead to major privacy issues and have life-long career implications 
  • There are a lot of public concerns about how the company uses the data it collects on users and how algorithms select content to show users
  • Researchers are seeing more connections between social media use like Facebook and negative mental health for teens 
  • Users can find groups and discussions on any topic they want to learn about, but not all information shared is credible
  • Facebook profiles show up high on Google searches, which could make your student look good or bad, depending on what they, or others, post

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Green Zone

Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Green Zone.
We believe this app is a STARTING POINT for your student, but that you must monitor your student on every app they are on. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

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Parents and Teachers: Please note this app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Gray Zone.
Parents should participate in these apps with students to keep them safe.
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Parents and Teachers: This app is listed in the SmartSocial.com Red Zone. We believe this app is not safe for students to use without adult supervision. Join our weekly newsletter to learn about the 100+ App Reviews at SmartSocial.com

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Table of Contents

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Facebook can be a great tool to help students Shine Online, even if they don’t want to use it to be social online. Parents, educators, and students will learn how to set up and use Facebook to create a positive online presence. 

Parent, educator, & student training video

Facebook course worksheet

Download the PDF here and take notes throughout this course

What is Facebook?

  • It’s a free online social media app that lets people connect with “Friends”
  • Users can share text posts, photos, and videos for Friends or strangers to see
  • The Feed is a mix of content generated by “Friends” and ads or sponsored posts
  • Users can also watch livestreams and “stories,” play games, find events, and shop the Marketplace
  • Meta (formerly Facebook, Inc.)owns the following: Facebook,  Messenger, Messenger Kids, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus VR, Workplace, Facebook Gaming, Portal, Calibra, and others
  • Facebook accounts can also be used to create many other accounts with services like Pinterest, Medium, TikTok, and more

How many teens use Facebook?

We’re retooling our teams to make serving young adults their north star, rather than optimizing for the larger number of older people. Like everything, this will involve trade-offs in our products and it will likely mean that the rest of our community will grow more slowly than it otherwise would have. But it should also mean that our services become stronger for young adults. This shift will take years, not months, to fully execute, and I think it's the right approach to building our community and company for the long term.

Mark Zuckerberg, October 2021

  • Facebook had 2.9 billion monthly active users around the world in 2021 (Statista)
  • 51% of US teens used Facebook in 2018, according to Pew researchers, and fewer teens sign up each year (Bloomberg & SocialMediaToday)
  • Facebook Gaming, which allows users to watch other gamers play, is popular around the world
tubefilter headline: Facebook Gaming is Scoring More Watch Time than YouTube, Despite Having 100,000 Fewer Streamers
Facebook Gaming viewers watched a total of 1.29 billion hours of livestreamed content from July to September. YouTube Gaming viewers, meanwhile, watched 1.13 billion hours.

tubefilter

Where is the Facebook app available? 

Facebook icon

Why should parents care about students using Facebook?

  • Strangers can send students Friend and or instant messaging requests
  • Students can be “tagged” in public photos, which will appear in Google results for your student’s name
  • There are a lot of public concerns about how the company uses the data it collects on users and how algorithms select content to show users
Behind the scenes, Facebook programmed the algorithm that decides what people see in their news feeds to use the reaction emoji as signals to push more emotional and provocative content — including content likely to make them angry...

Washington Post

  • Many people overshare on Facebook posts, which could lead to major privacy issues and have life-long career implications
A recent firing at The Associated Press is the latest example of the way in which our digital pasts are never far from the present…

New York Times

  • Users can find groups and discussions on any topic they want to learn about, but not all information shared is credible
  • Facebook profiles show up high on Google searches, which could make your student look good or bad, depending on what they, or others, post
  • Researchers are seeing more connections between social media use like Facebook and negative mental health for teens

Facebook allows private messaging and group video chats

  • Students can send and receive private messages and make video calls on Facebook.com and the Messenger app (but not on the Facebook app)
  • Users can create a free video meeting room on Messenger Rooms with unlimited chat time for up to 50 participants
  • They can choose specific Facebook friends to invite or they can send out an invite link (even to people without a Facebook account)
  • Privacy and online bullying are two of the major concerns about Messenger Rooms for student users who may not know how to control who is in their Messenger Room or what information is being shared in their “private” conversations online
Privacy seems to be the biggest concern being raised and here’s why. Messenger Rooms, like Facebook, collects metadata from users — including guests without Facebook accounts. Metadata may include the people you talk with, at what times, and how often, all of which can be shared with a third party. Also, Messenger Rooms, while it does not record calls (like Zoom), lacks end-to-end encryption, which makes the channel vulnerable to hackers and compromises private conversations.

McAfee

What can parents & educators do?

  • Explain the benefits of using Facebook as a platform to Shine Online for students, even if they don’t want to use it for social connections
  • Talk about what type of content is appropriate to post and find examples of other students and mentors your student be might interested in following as part of their online presence on Facebook
  • Explain the dangers of becoming Facebook "Friends" with people they don’t know in real life
  • Even though many teens are not on Facebook, cyberbullying could still be a concern. Discuss cyberbullying with your student and let them know they can always come to you if they ever feel uncomfortable
  • Check your student’s profile regularly. Help them update and review their Privacy Settings throughout the year and  whenever app updates become available
  • Talk with students about how to determine the credibility of information they read online to learn what information to trust when forming their own opinions

Why should students care?

  • College admissions officers and hiring managers search for applicants online. You can decide what they will find out about you
More than a third of the nearly 300 college admissions officers surveyed by the Kaplan Test Prep company say they have visited sites like Facebook... to get more information about a prospective student

EducationWeek

  • You might accidentally share a lot of personal information if you’re not careful
  • Photos and posts can help or hurt your image. Pictures and posts, which you consider to be harmless, could be seen differently by colleges
  • You can behave well online, but your friends can still tag you in inappropriate party photos. Even if you don’t actively share your social life on the app, you probably have a friend who does

How to set up a positive Facebook for a positive impact

Students should keep public information Light, Bright & Polite™

Screen shot of Josh Ochs' Facebook profile on a smart phone
  • Use your account to tell your story, in a positive way, and manage what others will find out about you online
  • Open your Facebook account under your real name to prevent someone from mistaking you for someone else

How students can use Facebook to their advantage

  • Let your account showcase your strengths, interesting hobbies, volunteer work, and bright personality
  • Sit down with your friends to examine your page. Ask them questions as they look through your photos pretending to be an admissions officer. How would they react to information they see?
  • Untag yourself from any photos that might not help your online image. Once you’re untagged, you might consider politely asking that friend to remove the photo entirely so it won’t be online for others to discover
  • Open your account page in an incognito/private browsing window to see how much public information you are revealing

Parent & educator video: How to set up Faceboook for a Positive Impact

Positive Facebook profiles help students Shine Online

Forbes headline How to Grow Your Career Using Facebook
I bet when you first created your Facebook profile, you didn’t think it would be the golden ticket to your next job opportunity... But it just might be…  Facebook should not be ignored in the employment arena. Forbes

What Facebook can reveal to colleges and employers

  • Real names and nicknames
  • Friends and influencers
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Personal photos
  • Travel
  • Personality (through status updates)

Protect your privacy

  • Never check in from your house, or it will reveal where you live
  • Ask your friends to keep your info private on social media
  • Don’t post about breaking school rules because teachers and principals can discover your page
  • Party pictures can spread like wildfire online. If you get tagged in a photo where underage people are drinking or engaging in an illegal activity, you could get in trouble (even if you weren’t participating)
Social Media Today headline Facebook Updates Its 'Privacy Check-Up' Tool to Clarify Which Elements You Can Control
Facebook has announced a refresh of its 'Privacy Check-Up' tool, which highlights how your personal data is being, or can be used and displayed by Facebook, and what you can do to limit exposure of your personal information.

Social Media Today

How to audit your Facebook activity

  • Even though deleting old posts may not delete them from the internet, removing old posts or photos that do not display your current online image can help control what college and job recruiters see about you online
  • From Settings and Privacy in the app, scroll down to Your Information and tap Activity Log
  • Look through Your Posts, Activity You’re Tagged In, Interactions, Groups, Events and Reels, Profile Information, and Connections from your activity history and consider removing anything that doesn’t show you in a positive way

How to use Facebook's privacy settings

  • Open the app and click on the three lines in the bottom right corner for the menu
  • At the bottom, click Settings & Privacy, and then Settings again
  • Scroll down to Audience and Visibility and tap Followers and Public Content 
  • Consider what setting is most appropriate for Who Can Follow Me, Who can see the people, Pages and lists you follow, Public Post Comments, Public Post Notifications, and Public Profile Info 
  • ~SmartSocial recommends the most restrictive settings “Friends” or “No One” for students until they are ready to Shine Online and have a plan in place of what information to share online and how to monitor their social media

Additional Permissions to consider

There are many additional privacy settings available on, including:

  • Ad preferences
  • Reviewing tags
  • Location
  • Active Status

Tip: Turn on ‘Quiet Mode’ to minimize interruptions 

Tech Crunch headline Facebook's new 'Quiet Mode' option lets you turn off the app's push notifications
Facebook is launching a new feature called “Quiet Mode” that will allow you to minimize distractions by muting the app’s push notifications for a time frame you specify. Tech Crunch

More Facebook resources

Conclusion

Facebook can offer students a great way to share their strengths and goals. But like all social media platforms, it should be used in moderation. Continuous scrolling can lead users to compare themselves to others and to lose interest in offline activities. Students should remember to always stay smart about what they post and to never let Facebook, or any social media app, dominate their life.

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