Facebook and Teens – Maybe a Good Thing?
Unlike the phone, kids also use Facebook to send each other fish, plants and hatching eggs and to play games with each other.
If you are a bit nervous about allowing your teens to have their own Facebook account setting the following rules and maintaining them may make it easier for you to relax.
1. Talk to your children about safety on the internet. Have the conversation about cyber bullying as well. Yes, they may role their eyes and tell you that they’ve heard it all before. Tell them that they haven’t heard it from you and that part of your job as a parent is to keep them safe. If they don’t have the conversation with you then the internet is off limits.
2. Put the computer in the main room where everyone gathers. You can get nice cabinetry for computers nowadays so it can be hidden from view when not in use. If it’s where everyone can see what’s going on the chances of misuse are reduced.
3. Set up your own Facebook account and get familiar with the various security settings. Ensure that your teen knows how to use them so that anything they publish is only available to their friends.
3. Insist upon having your child’s Facebook password.
4. Insist that you and your child are “friends”.
5. Even though you are Facebook friends they can limit what you see when you log in to your own account. Tell them that you will be signing in to their Facebook account regularly to check it. If they protest, once again, explain that your job is to keep them safe and that in order for them to have internet and Facebook access that this is a requirement.
6. If you find something that is offensive talk to your child about it reasonably. Do not scream at them and remove their Facebook access. Be open to having the conversation about what prompted them to post it to their site and discuss why you think the offending item shouldn’t be there. Remember that you were once a teenager too!
7. Discuss the fact that, even though your teen may be careful about posting personal information, their friends may not. They should make sure that their friends are not posting anything that would put anyone at risk. Encourage them to help keep their friends safe as well as themselves.
8. Ensure that they know that whatever they post on line is there forever so it’s important to think before you click. If it’s something that you wouldn’t say off line don’t say it on line. If it’s something that they might not want someone to see in the future then don’t post it now. Remind them that one day they will be looking for a job and that their prospective employer might be able to find them on line.
9. Remember that you are still the parent and that you can always pull the plug on internet access and the computer if they don’t comply with the rules that you set to keep them safe.
The rules that you set are meant to keep your child safe not to stop them from being a teenager. That’s an important thing to remember. I want to warn you that once in a while you may find things that surprise and yes, even shock you on their site. It is extremely important that you keep the lines of communication open between you and your teen. If you freak out at every little thing that is not going to happen. When you monitor their Facebook site be a little bit flexible in what you allow. Just remember to discuss, discuss, and discuss some more.
It may surprise you to find that even you find that Facebook is an important tool for keeping in touch with what’s happening and making plans with friends and family that you may not be in contact with daily. I know I do.