Until last year, I had thought facebook was a tool for just teenagers and young adults. They grew up with technology that we (40’s-ish) cannot comprehend. Before I got the “aha” about facebook, I thought that it was for people who wanted to vent about their day. To our teens it’s so much more than that- It’s about identity (their own and everyone else’s). Their facebook page is an extension of their personalities, with games, pictures (and lots of them), status, friends, a place to vent, likes and dislikes.
What we (40’s-ish) do not understand is how to protect them. They have so much information out there on the net that it could come back to haunt them one day. So I began to look into this and this is what I found:
1) A Teen’s (ages 13-17) posts and pictures will not show up in public searches (according to facebook) another way to do this it to make sure the “enable public search” remains unchecked, which can be found in the privacy section of facebook, under the apps, games & websites section- toward the bottom of the page.
2) Become their friend on facebook but don’t become stalker mom or dad, what you need to know is how they are interacting and to monitor. What you should not do is to pop in unannounced. It’s ok to banter with them but not in their personal conversations with their friends online. (if you have a problem with what they are posting please bring it up them face to face OFF line)
3) Respect them but also let them know they can come to you if they have problems online and if you are a facebook user then you’ll understand the problem.
4) Encourage your kids to not post personal information such as which school they attend, class schedule, what time they get home, going out places..etc..without privacy controls in place (they have the ability to limit who see’s their information by choosing a customized setting in the privacy section).
5) Also know that you should operate in the secure HTTPS mode over the HTTP mode when on facebook so that none of those crazy APPS your teen is downloading can be eavesdropping on your conversations, collecting data and getting your account hacked. How you find out is look at your web browser bar… if it begins with HTTP:// then you are NOT secure. You can just type it into your web browser the next time you sign into your account. If you frequent the games, apps..etc.. you will need to do so in the regular HTTP:// mode because most of these will not work in the secure mode… (Hmmm I wonder what information they are collection from us???) Just keep that in mind the next time you play Farmville online.
6) Also to encourage them to not click on any link or video without checking it out on snopes.com first. Many people unknowingly spread virus’s on facebook to their friends because they just clicked on a link. Check it out first and be sure your child knows this.. Otherwise their account could be hacked.
7) Also encourage them to only friend people they know… put limits on those they do not know well. What I like to do is create a list of people such as: friends, family, co-workers, and extended friends. Then you can just post pictures or information to just friends without everyone being able to view them. Go to your friends section, create a list and place your friends in them. It also helps when you are viewing your own news feed to only view your family for instance. Also you can control any pictures of you that other people tagged by un-checking the tag and by editing the settings in the privacy section.
8) Remember you can block or delete any comment that is left on your front page. Also if you are sharing private data do so as a message rather than posting it on their front page. When you post, click on the lock button to control who’s able to see that post.
9) I also have to add… I really don’t like the checked in feature because it lets everyone know where you are and that you are not at home. They’re calling it the “People here now” button.
10) And lastly secure all of your photo’s…Otherwise everyone has access to them. You can do this by going to your customized section and go to “edit privacy settings for existing photos and videos”. This feature allows you to be able to designate who can view each album. For instance: I only allow family to view my family pictures.
Facebook is not going away anytime soon and it’s grown to over 750 million, the average user has 130 friends and people spend on average 700 minutes a month on facebook.
Be Safe, Be Secure but HAVE FUN!