This article originally appeared on the MommyNearest mobile app where I am an “Expert Mom” and weekly contributor. To read great daily content and find the best places to hang out with your kids in the Chicago and New York metropolitan areas, download the app HERE for free.
As a social media professional, it concerns me when I hear about parents allowing their kids to have access to social media without monitoring. It is imperative that we as parents not only understand the digital footprint our children are creating, but really understand how each of these platforms work ourselves. Don’t feel embarrassed to take a class to educate yourself on the ins and outs. The more educated you can be, the more of an equal conversation that you can have with your child and the more likely they are to be receptive to what you have to say. Most of us have a Facebook account, and according to a recent article in Mashable almost 75% of teens are using Facebook. Here are my Top 5 things that parent should know about Facebook:
1. Facebook recommends that your children should be at least 12 to have an account. But they don’t monitor it and will not delete an account from someone underage unless it is reported. This is to protect Facebook, not your children. Everything that your kids (and you) do on Facebook is tracked and used for marketing purposes.
2. Your children do NOT want to be friends with you on Facebook. They will block you if given the chance and convince you that they don’t even have an account. But they NEED TO BE connected to you. However, don’t think that this is an open window to everything that they post. Thanks to the ability to block individuals from specific status updates and posts, your kids can hide anything they don’t want you to see with just the click of a button.
3. Have their passwords – no exceptions. As a parent, you need to review every post that your child is making on Facebook and create an open dialogue about the pros and cons of their posts. Disable location services, and discourage kids from checking in at places they frequent (schools, extra- curricular activities). Require approval before anything is posted on their walls. Know this – no matter how many times you beg and threaten, Facebook will NOT allow you access to your child’s account without their permission if they won’t give you their password.
4. Kids don’t know 1/3 of the people in their “Friends” list. The higher the number, the more “popular” they are considered. Utilize privacy controls, and manage “Friends” list to have only people that they are actual friends with (as opposed to people that they know who they are or are familiar with) attached to their Facebook account. Online bullying and predators are real, so are people creating fake accounts to target vulnerable kids.
5. Wi-Fi is free almost everywhere. They’ll use their friends phones, tablets, music players, video games, school computers, or whatever they can get their hands on with internet access to update their status and see what’s going on. Grounding them from social media is ineffective.
What are your thoughts? Are you currently doing any of the above steps?