A Facebook Guide for Parents: Taming the Social Network

By Jonathon Wylie

Facebook is a global phenomenon. It has over 500 million active users that post around 30 billion links, stories, posts, photos, and news items each month. However, Facebook can be a constant source of worry for parents. Its privacy settings always seem to be in the news, and other dangers like online bullying never seem to go away. This Facebook Guide for Parents is aimed at addressing these very issues.


Setting Up a Facebook Account

Find some time to sit down and set up a Facebook account with your child. This way you can talk about the implications of the preferences that you are required to choose when completing the registration process.

Discuss the importance of appropriate online behavior, and talk about what they think is, and isn’t, suitable to post on Facebook. Personal information like addresses, phone numbers and current locations are obviously ill-advised, as are suggestive photos, dubious links, and certain Facebook apps.

Also, remember that children need to be at least 13 years of age to have a Facebook account. Although this can be hard to enforce, it is a requirement laid down by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, so Facebook are keen to comply. One estimate suggests Facebook are deleting up to 20,000 underage accounts each day.


Understanding Privacy Controls

Facebook offers a number of controls that are designed to help protect the privacy of its users. Each setting allows you to control what level of access you give other people to view what you post on Facebook. This includes control over your profile, photos, wall posts, videos, and more. Each of these can be set to public for everyone, for friends of friends, or for friends only.

Facebook chooses a default set of preferences for new accounts, but you should review these to make sure that they are what you want. To do this, click on the Account tab in the top right hand corner, and selecting Privacy Settings.


Reporting Abuse

Facebook takes the abuse of its site seriously. As such, it has included some built-in controls that will let your child anonymously report inappropriate online conduct or content.

If your child is being bullied or harassed by someone they accepted as a friend, they can block that person by visiting their profile and clicking ‘Report/Block this person’ at the bottom of their page.

Similarly, if they receive inappropriate messages, links, or photos, they should click the ‘Report’ link for each one and a Facebook administrator will investigate the offending content.


More Resources

The official Facebook Guide for Parents can be found online in their help section. It has advice and resources for both parents and teens, so make sure that you are both aware of where it is for when you need it.

Online safety has never been more important than today, so it’s important to know where you stand with the world’s biggest social network. You can’t anticipate everything that will happen to your teen on Facebook, but with the right information they will at least know how to act if something does happen.

Jonathan Wylie

Jonathan Wylie

Jonathan Wylie is the owner of The Education Technology Blog, a website dedicated to helping teachers advance the use of technology in the classroom. He is a teacher, husband, and proud father, but also works as a freelance writer for several online publications.  Jonathan is originally from Scotland, but now lives and works in rural Iowa. He has a love for education, photography, computers, and just about any gadget that he can get his hands on.

Posted in Technology on March 29th, 2011 | Permalink | 1 Comment »
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