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What is Facebook – What Every Parent Needs to Know

Social media is the way of life now for our children. If your home doesn't have access to the digital highway, your child's school does.

Introduction

Facebook was developed in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg when he was a Harvard University student. Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Millions of people, in every country, use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. The site’s minimum age is 13 and the most active age group is 18-24 (Facebook, 2012).

What Parents Should Know about Social Media

Social media is the way of life now for our children. There is no way to keep them off it unless your family culture/religion doesn't allow the digital world to enter the home. If your home doesn't have access to the digital highway, your child's school does. Your child's friends also have access to the Internet via their smart phones and iPads. If you do not know the ways to protect your child from the dangers of the digital highway, you need to learn now. 

I decided to provide this resource to you because as I work with students of all ages, I am surprised to hear how the young children (under the age of 10) are given access to the digital highway. Yes, this includes Facebook via their parents. I am not judging, by no means, rather I want to make sure you and your family have awareness and take the necessary precautions. Facebook and the digital highway can be a portal for friends, resources and learning. You just need to know a few important rules of guidance to become better informed and able to communicate necessary information to your child. Especially if something goes wrong on Facebook or the Internet you will know your options. Yes, minor incidents will happen with your children.

For example, Xbox360 is a popular game system which allows children to join their friends online via the digital highway to play games using their live option. Children who are impulsive "keyboarders" or "clickers" will be easily drawn into phishing schemes that eventually hack your child's information. If you use Xbox360 or similar live accounts, do not keep your credit card on file. We have had minor issues online because children will need to engage higher thinking skills to prevent problems from happening. Your child will not approach Facebook or Xbox360 Live as you would to prevent any safety issues. However, you can help your child out by communicating, at their level, and posting checklists or warnings right by their computer or on their iPad cases.

Now, I came across one similar resource, with tons of information, that I will provide you in a moment, but the common ground that this resource covers can be found in this list.

  1. You need to be aware of the Facebook application and how it works. This will help you be able to navigate your child's Facebook page for safety reasons.
  2. You need to be aware of cyber bullying which means your child can be harassed and bullied online now and not just in person.
  3. Digital footprints and good reputations: Did you know what your child puts out onto the digital highway anywhere but in this case Facebook–stays there for life? This will impact college admissions and job hiring.
  4. How to monitor Facebook activities: Comments, videos, emails, images, groups your child joins and, most importantly, privacy options to set up boundaries and limitations, ensure only people you know become friends with your child or you are approving the friends your child may have allowed onto their page!

The first resource is A Parent's Guide to Facebook authored by Anne Collier and Larry Magid originating at the site safekids.com. This guide is in .pdf format and is FREE with 36 pages of how-to's and what to know's. 

I hope you will take advantage of this free resource and learn a bit more about social media and its risks as well as its benefits.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

BoroGuy May 18, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Colleen, Thanks for the insightful article. All parents should be very aware of their children's access and activity. My wife and I are vigilant about our children's use of digital communications. Computer access is limited to a shared family space - no computers in children's room. We MUST be friended on Facebook, as well as have all userIDs and passwords to any web site. Cell phones get "parked" in kitchen every night - can not go to bed with phones. Parental controls are set on computer and activity logs are created. Some parents may think this is overkill, but Colleen is right when she says, "Yes, minor incidents will happen with your children." And, you'd better hope they're minor. I am amazed at how many parents freely give out access and assume their kids are behaving. Although your child may be a "good kid", you can't control what others are sharing and exposing them to. Some quick searches, e.g. on Facebook, can turn up some pretty alarming results. You'd be surprised. Thanks again, Colleen; and let's hope this opens a few eyes. Remember - we're their parents before we're their friends!
Colleen Bain, MAED May 18, 2012 at 09:57 PM
BoroGuy - I commend you and your wife for being so diligent with your children. I know some parents are on the fence about this topic because there is debate about their child's privacy. However, if the child is under adult age, there should be open door policy with their social media accounts. That's my opinion and the feedback from the experts in the field - see the link to the pdf in my article. If you can be proactive with social media and "teach" your children the ins and outs about safety and security options, your children may be more open to cooperating with less of an argument. Colleen

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