5 Ways to Protect Your Kids on Facebook
There is a minimum age requirement of 13 years old for Facebook users, but some parents may feel that even this age is too young. With many debating over whether or not children should be allowed to use Facebook, there are many others looking for ways to protect their children while using the social networking platform.
The easiest way to protect your children on Facebook is probably just to say “no” and not allow them to use the social networking platform at all, but Facebook also allows them to interact with their friends and just disallowing the use of the site is not always the best option. There are ways you can monitor their use of the site and make sure they steer clear from trouble. Here are 5 tips for protecting younger Facebook users while still allowing them to have their social interaction with their friends.
1. Change the privacy settings
By default your child’s profile may be visible to everyone. You should change these settings so her profile can only be seen by people who have been accepted as friends. Facebook has recently made some changes so when a minor ads a photo or changes their status, even if their privacy settings are set to “everyone”, it will only be visible to their friends, friends of friends, and possibly anyone they are in school with if they have joined a group.
There is a setting on Facebook that allows your “friends of friends” to see your profile but you should turn this off. It’s hard enough to keep up with your child’s friends, never mind the friends of their friends. This could include hundreds of thousands of people and it’s too wide open to leave to have this setting turned on. You should also make sure your child “friends” you if you have a Facebook account so you can keep up to date with all of her activity.
2. Limit the information in the child’s profile
You should protect your child’s identity as much as possible, even from people she thinks she knows. Avoid having information like geographic location, phone number, school names, and personal interests on the profile. Some of this information can be used be identity thieves as well, so you will want to limit what kind of personal data is made open on Facebook.
3. Make sure your child verifies each friend request
It’s a good idea to stay on top of all of the people that are in your child’s friend list, even if your child thinks this is an invasion of her privacy. The truth of the matter is that we live in a dangerous world and Facebook is not just being used by law abiding citizens.
There are some nefarious people that will pose as friends of children to get on their friend lists. For each friend request your child should verify who that person is before accepting. This can be done with a phone call to that person to make sure it really is her friend from school, or a personal message can be sent through Facebook to verify the friend’s identity.
4. Use software to monitor your child’s activity on Facebook
There are many social networking security features about a program called Norton Online Family that allow parents to automatically set time limits on the usage of Facebook and only allow access to the site during specific times and days of the week. This way a parent can always be sure to be around when a child is using Facebook. The program also allows a parent to monitor all of the sites that a child is visiting, including all of the pages on Facebook that your child has viewed.
5. Discuss Facebook boundaries with your child
This is really the most important tip in protecting your child from the harms of Facebook. Just sitting down to talk with your children about why it is so important to be careful on Facebook can go a long way. Show them you care and that’s why you are being so cautious, and also tell them about the dangers of using the site and being open with information.
Facebook can be a great tool for kids to keep in touch with their friends and interact with others, but this is not an area where parents need to keep their guard down.
The same people that are guilty of every imaginable crime are also on Facebook and parents need to be cautious when allowing minors to use the site.