With over 2.3 billion users on Facebook, there will probably come a time when your child will want to get an account. Kids socialize on social media more than ever and it has become an important part of their lives. While Facebook safety is at the top of your mind, it would seem keeping them off social media entirely would be ideal. Unfortunately you can’t keep them off Facebook and other social media forever. Here are some ways to keep your kids safe and happy.
Wait Until They Are 13
Most social media platforms like Facebook have age restrictions starting at 13. While your 10 or 11 year old might have friends on social media already, you can stave them off for a few more years using this rule as an excuse. If they still want to be able to chat and talk with friends who are on, create a family account that you have complete and total access to so you know everything going on.
Facebook Messenger Kids
Because so many kids have smartphones and want to be able to chat with their friends or family in a safe environment, Facebook has launched Messenger Kids. An app that allows for messaging and video calls with extensive parental controls in an ad free environment. As a parent you have total control over who your child is and isn’t allowed to talk to.
Even though you have greater control over who your kid talks to you still want to monitor your kids activity on this app. Cyberbullying is a very serious problem that affects kids as young as 8 years old and sometimes even younger! Be sure to look out for the signs of cyberbullying. You will also want to limit their time on this app.
Dangers That Lurk On Facebook
So your kid turns 13 and you finally let them have their own Facebook account. Here are some of the dangers they will face that you as a parent will have to look out for.
– False Information
Fake news has been a problem on Facebook over the last few years. Misinformation and clickbaity articles that are intended to elicit fear and other strong emotions are often shared and can create chaos. Being inundated with this type of media can confuse and/or stress your teen out. Teens often feel very passionate about things and can easily become radicalized via the internet. Make sure they know not to trust everything they read on Facebook at face value and to learn how to discern between opinion and fact.
As mentioned before cyberbullying is a serious issue. Unlike the bullying of the past, it does not stop once your kid gets home. It is constant, cruel and devastating. Teen suicides due to cyberbullying are on the rise. Talk to your kids about cyberbullying to make sure they are not falling victim or participating in bullying another child.
– Sexual Predators
Since the moment children have been online, sexual predators have been there to groom and lure kids into unsafe territory. Whether they present themselves as teens themselves or offer your teen the emotional support and attention they feel they are lacking at home, these predators are adept at separating your child from their family.
– Blackmail and Other Scams
Scam artists like to target teens because they are vulnerable. Sometimes they will convince your teen to do something like take nude pictures or participate in some other illicit activity and then turn around and threaten them into sending more inappropriate pictures, engage in more inappropriate behaviors or even demanding they send money under the threat of telling their parents.
Another scam is pretending to be a friend in need. They will make up a story where they urgently need some money and try to convince your child to send to help. They rely on the goodness of your child’s heart to exploit them.
– Human Traffickers
Every year hundreds of children go missing. Kidnappers and human traffickers rely on opportunity to take children. Often times social media gives these monsters all the information on your child they will need to kidnap them. Their school, their schedule, friends and family names, all of this information they will use to convince your child to go with them.
– Lost College/Work Opportunities
If we had documented record of all the stupid things we did as kids for all of our future employers or schools to see, we would all be in a lot of trouble. Many kids these days find themselves in hot water over activity posted to social media. Some have lost scholarships, jobs even have had college acceptances rescinded because of bad behavior online.
Facebook Safety Tips:
Teach your kids about Facebook safety and the best practices. Remind them to keep their profile and posts private and to only friend people they know in person. Make sure they don’t include the school they attend on their profile or their date of birth. Impress upon them never to share sensitive information like their address, or where their parents work with anyone across Facebook. Let them know you will be monitoring their posts for inappropriate behavior and that it is okay for them to come to you if they feel something is wrong online.
There are a few ways to monitor your kids on Facebook, but only two of them will allow you to know everything they are doing on the social network. The first way is to just log into into their Facebook using their username and password and snoop around.
An easier and stealthier way of doing this is to download a phone monitoring app like Highster Mobile. This monitoring program doesn’t only allow you to view your child’s Facebook activity, but all of their cell phone activity including text messages, pictures, GPS location and more. You will be able to keep tabs on your teen.