Ten Tips for Parents of Teens on Facebook
It’s unreasonable to think you can keep your teen away from Facebook, much less the Internet. So here are some tips to use as a jumping-off place for figuring out how to keep your teen safe on Facebook and the Internet.
Talk to them about general Internet safety: Here are some general Internet safety tips that apply no matter what kind of website you’re using:
Don’t share any personally identifying info (address, phone number, credit card info, and so on) with anyone you don’t know.
Create different passwords for all of the sites you use. Passwords should also be difficult to guess and contain a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols.
Don’t share your passwords with anyone, even boyfriends/girlfriends or best friends (this is one that teenagers tend to struggle with).
Only click links you trust; be wary of scammy-sounding advertisements. They are usually scams.
Tell them to beware of strangers: Unfortunately, like the real world, Facebook isn’t completely free of malicious people who lie to take advantage of someone else.
Teach them how to report abuse: Virtually every piece of content on Facebook has a report link. Facebook investigates all abuse reports and removes content that violates its Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. You can report timelines for being fake or posts for being harassing.
Teach them how to block people: If someone is bothering your teen (or you) and won’t leave them alone, don’t hesitate to block them from the Privacy pages. Blocking someone almost has the effect of making it seem like they are not on Facebook. Neither of you will be able to see each other in searches, message each other, or look at each other’s timelines.
Learn to use privacy settings: For teens in the United States on Facebook Everyone posts are not actually distributed to Everyone via search or otherwise, and generally adults see a limited version of their timelines regardless of their settings. But to be even safer, go through your teen’s privacy settings with them and agree on settings that allow them to share more safely. In general, sharing things only with Friends is a quick way to make sure that fewer people are seeing your child’s information.
Talk about posts and consequences: Even with good privacy settings, teenagers often struggle with the idea that once something is shared, it’s hard to undo. Encourage your teen to think about how something might be seen and interpreted by people who aren’t their closest friends.
Remember the Golden Rule: Talk to your kids about the behaviors that might affect others, whether known or unknown. This includes things like creating hateful Facebook groups targeting a teacher or peer, as well as going into a forum somewhere else on the Internet and posting something inflammatory or offensive under the protection of anonymity (although, on the Internet, anonymity doesn’t usually last).
Respect their boundaries: You can talk to your kids about some of the things you see on their Facebook page, but commenting on their stuff or posting on their timeline are things that are likely to get you unfriended.
Don’t send friend requests to their friends: If their friends friend you, it’s probably okay to accept those requests. However, it’s generally considered weird and pushy to reach out to their friends yourself.
Make space for your own social life, and your family life, on Facebook: If you joined Facebook just to understand what was going on in your teen’s life, that’s great. But now, there’s a lot Facebook can offer you and your friends, with or without your children present. Share photos. Coordinate events with your friends. Post statuses about what’s going on with you. It doesn’t always have to be about them.