Many of us use Facebook on a daily basis to keep up with friends and families. We upload and share pictures of our kids and it’s a great way to keep everyone up to date with what our families are up to. But for many parents I’ve chatted with, it’s amazing how many people ask for advice on what they should know before their kids jump on the popular social media platform. By the way, you know children must be 13 years of age or older to be on many social media platforms, right?
Today, Facebook announced the launch of the Parent’s Portal—a new section that can be found on the Facebook Safety Centre. Did you know this Safety Centre existed? Take note; not only does it help you navigate the site (like how to find friends, post, share, tag) but it also helps in understanding different levels of cyberbullying and how to act on it.
The new Parent’s Portal will include a guide for parents about how Facebook works, tips for talking with your kids about how to stay safe online and resources from experts around the world.
Since many parents are considering tech devices as gifts over the holiday season, it’s the perfect time for us all to review, refresh and stay current so we can stay safe online.
Facebook has offered up some useful tips for parents:
Technology has changed the ways in which people connect, but for families, the basics of talking with children about safety remain the same. Working with expert partners from around the world, we’ve pulled together a few tips you might find useful as you figure out how to speak with your child about their online safety.
Let your child know that the same rules apply online as apply offline.
If it’s not something you want others to do to you, don’t do it to others. Just as you might tell your child to look both ways before crossing the street or to wear a helmet while riding their bike, teach them to think before they share online.
Try to be a good role model.
The adage that children will “do as you do, not as you say” is as true online as it is offline. If you set time restrictions on when your child can use social media or be online (eg. no texting after 10:00 PM), follow the same rules.
Data suggests that parents should engage online with their children as soon as they are on social media. Consider friending them when they join Facebook. Just as you lay the foundation early for dialogue and conversation offline with your children, you should lay that foundation early online. It gets harder to do so if you wait. Even before they are on social media, talk to them about technology as a whole. It can help lay the groundwork for future conversations.
Identify and seize key moments.
For example, when your child gets their first mobile phone, it’s a good time to set ground rules. When your child turns 13 years old and is mature enough to join Facebook and other social media, it’s a good time to talk about safe sharing. When your child gets a driver’s license, it’s a good time to discuss the importance of not texting and driving.
Typically, you can adopt the same parenting style for your child’s online activities as you do for their offline activities. If you find that your child responds best to a negotiated agreement, create a contract that you can both sign. Or, maybe your child just needs to know the basic rules.
Ask your children to teach you.
Not on Facebook? Or, maybe you’re interested in trying a streaming music service? If your children are already familiar with these apps and sites, they can be an excellent resource. The conversation can also serve as an opportunity to talk about issues of safety, privacy, and security. For example, you can ask them questions about privacy settings as you set up your own Facebook account. And, as most parents know all too well, your child will likely appreciate the opportunity to teach you.
This list is only a starting point and may not exactly fit the needs of your family—the important thing is that you’re having the conversation.