#3) Kids are fully responsible for their Facebook: While kids can’t be responsible for the dumb things their Facebook Friends post on their Wall and News Feed, your kids must be responsible for anything posted from their own profile. If they leave a public place and kept their Facebook logged on and somebody posts something acting like your kid (regardless if it’s inappropriate or not), your kid is responsible for it. If they allow a friend to use their Facebook profile to send messages out to people, your kid is responsible for it. Once something is posted, it can never be permanently removed. Hopefully this helps them think twice (or a third or fourth time) about allowing someone else to borrow their identity for a little while.
#4) Watch what is said because others are watching: What your kid posts is seen by everyone they’re friends with: family, coaches, youth leaders, teachers, family friends, neighbors and more. And if commented on by a Facebook Friend, all their Friends may see that too. So watch what is said: no swearing, no threats, and no innuendos. And watch who is talked about: no complaining about parents, no putting down siblings, no publicizing family spats. A good rule of thumb when posting anything is to ask, “What would happen if what I’m posting was posted on the Google home page for everyone to see?”
#5) Friend real people that are really known: Facebook is about connecting and reconnecting with people who are part of one’s past or present reality. There is no contest or award for “who can get the most Facebook Friends.” Avoid Friending people just because others have Friended them. Also, don’t Friend strangers. And don’t raid the parents’ Friends either. The key question to ask when Friending or considering a Friend Request is, “do I really trust this person to see the updates, the pictures and the information I post and not do something bad with them?”
#6) Keep personal information private: Kids are an open book and much more naïve about the world. There are real bad people in the world. Some bad people are using Facebook for bad purposes. Said bad people are hacking Facebook accounts to gain access to people’s private information and that of their Facebook Friends. So, to be as safe as possible, don’t post personal information on Facebook (physical address, full birth date, place of employment, etc). Also, avoid updates such as, “Parents are gone. I’m home alone and bored,” or “Our family is gone on vacation for three weeks!” These kinds of updates can invite bad people to do bad things to a family member or the family’s home.
As parents, make it a point of bringing up Facebook-related topics with your kid. Whether it’s a new feature or layout change by Facebook, or about a shared Facebook Friend’s recent update, or how they’re advancing in a Facebook game…the more you talk offline about what is happening online, the better the chances are that they’ll turn to you when something happens online that made them uncomfortable or feel threatened. If it’s natural for parents and kids to talk about Facebook, it makes it that much easier when they might really need your help with something that’s happening with someone on Facebook (or in real life).
Regardless of the amount of time consumed with different technology and social media, kids need to know they can turn to their parents. Judy and Elroy needed that from their mom and dad, and so do your teens!
Copyright © 2010 K. Jason and Kelli Krafsky – Permission granted to use and reproduce with proper source citation.