Facebook Safety: How to Ensure Your Kids Are Prepared

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November 1, 2017

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Table of Contents

Facebook Safety: How to Ensure Your Kids Are Prepared an Expert Guest Blog SmartSocial.com

With Facebook being the largest social media network in the world, it’s important for parents to teach their kids Facebook safety. In addition to Facebook’s popularity the network also happens to be in our Green Zone, which means it can have a positive impact on your student’s digital footprint when used wisely. Before giving them access to their first Facebook account, we recommend parents prepare their children for the risks, dangers, and threats that are associated with using it. So, how can parents ensure their children are prepared for their first Facebook account? We asked 5 experts to share their best Facebook safety tips.

1. Post cautiously on Facebook

Sage Singleton headshot
Sage Singleton

Sage Singleton, SafeWise

It's essential to be savvy and cautious when posting to social media. A picture says a thousand words. Posting a photo to Facebook gives strangers a lot of information. For example, your child may innocently post a picture of their baseball team, but that photo tells people which number on the team you are, which school you go to, and who you associate with. Kids may not realize that posting a picture or updating their location status could be hazardous. Social media gives everyone, including strangers, a clear view into your world, leaving you vulnerable and exposed.

Keep Information Private - Remind your child never to give out personal information without checking with you first and caution them against taking online surveys or quizzes, as criminals can use information submitted through these formats to steal identities.

Talk About the Issue - Use language appropriate for your child’s age and development to explain the dangers of online sexual predators. Reassure your child it’s not their fault if someone they don’t know initiates inappropriate contact with them, and tell them they must make you aware of the situation immediately. Show your child how to set privacy controls on their social media accounts to help avoid dangerous contact.

Follow Their Online Activity - Another way to help your child stay safe online is periodically checking their social media accounts and other online activity and talking to them about anything that concerns you. We recommend telling your child that you will monitor their activity and talking about your expectations. Consider using an app like TeenSafe  to track your kid’s web history, phone calls, text messages, and GPS location.

2. Compose an age appropriate contract of mutually agreed upon Facebook safety rules

Dr. Kimberly Williams headshot
Dr. Kimberly Williams

Dr. Kimberly Williams, Pediatric Neuropsychologist and Clinical Psychologist

Parents always ask, how do I Facebook Proof my child? They are worried about child predators, the privacy of their home, and cyberbullying. I explain that Facebook is a Rite of Passage for the child. Parents and their children should come together and compose an age appropriate contract of mutually agreed upon rules. For instance outline what is considered appropriate content, safe friending (you can't friend anyone who you've never met in person), and no revealing or provocative posts. One non negotiable rule is that parents must have the login information. Kids don't have to friend their parents, but they must know parents can randomly check content. I ask parents not to nitpick every comment or photo. As long as kids follow the contract, parents shouldn’t hassle their kids. This plan may need tweaking for each family, but it establishes rules and helps a child earn trust from their parents.

3. Empower teens by giving them the tools to protect themselves online

Thea Dodds headshot
Thea Dodds

Thea Dodds, Farm & Wilderness

One often-overlooked tip for smart and safe Facebook use is to unplug. Kids need extensive experience in the off-line world to learn their own strategies to be safe and smart on social media. We’re not always going to be there to protect them, so they need tools to protect themselves. At Farm & Wilderness  summer camps and teen programs we teach life skills in a fun, supportive and unplugged summer community.

4. Enlist a younger and cooler family member

Kate Stead headshot
Kate Stead

Kate Stead, Old Mate Media

Kids are always reluctant to listen to their own parents. As a child or tween it feels impossible that your uncool parents could possibly have any understanding of the world that you live in and the things that are important. This is something that hasn't changed across time. However, kids will be much more likely to have a upfront conversation with someone else who is closer to their own age and not in the parental zone, but is still more worldly and cool. Younger aunts or uncles are fantastic for this, but also older cousins, your neighbors’ older children, or even the neighbors themselves if they are younger. Oftentimes, the advice will be much more effective coming from someone else.

5. Don’t share photos that you wouldn’t want your parents see

Emma Monks headshot
Emma Monks

Emma Monks, Crisp

Personal information is like a jigsaw puzzle, the more little bits teens give out the more others can piece together a complete picture about them. If their Facebook profile shows their location, and they mention a favorite park or their school’s name, some people may use this to bully or worse, locate them. Teens should never share photos of themselves that they wouldn’t let their parents see. Before posting a photo of a friend, always get their permission. After all, they wouldn’t be happy if a friend shared a photo of them that they didn’t like.

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