Thursday, June 2, 2011

Tips for Parents about Talking to Teens about Facebook

Tips for talking to teens about Facebook: 

1.Talk to your kids about controlling their information. Encourage them to be selective about what they post. But it’s not just what they post that can get away from them. Their activities on Facebook, including the applications they use and games they play, can be viewed by others.

2.Use privacy settings. Facebook’s default settings tend to keep information public until a user makes it private (although Facebook is a little stricter with minors’ accounts). Review the settings with your teen, and make sure they are set to “Friends Only.”  

3.Disable location services. Facebook’s Places feature lets users post their location. Teens can also “tag” their friends’ location when they’re together. These features can be -- and should be -- disabled in the privacy settings of teens’ accounts. 

4.Set rules about what’s appropriate to post. No sexy photos, no drinking photos, no photos of them doing something that could hurt them in the future. They also need to be thoughtful about their status updates, wall posts, and comments on friends’ posts. Remind them that once they post something, it’s out of their hands. 

5.Encourage teens to self-reflect before they self-reveal. Teens are very much in the moment and are likely to post something they didn’t really mean. Work with them on curbing that impulse. Teach them to ask themselves why they’re posting something, who will be able to read it, and whether it be misunderstood or used against them later. 

6.Watch out for ads. There are tons of ads on Facebook, and most major companies have profile pages. Marketers actively use Facebook to target advertising to your teen.

7.Create your own page. The best way to learn the ins and outs of Facebook is to create your own page. A great way to start talking to your teens about their Facebook experience is to ask them to help you create your own page. 

8.“Friend” younger teens. If your kids are in middle school, it may be a sound policy to know what they’re posting, since teens that age don’t necessarily understand that they’re creating a digital footprint that will long outlast the passions of the moment. 

9.Talk to your high school-aged teens about whether or not they’re comfortable letting you “friend” them. Many will be. If you are your teen’s friend, don’t fill her page with comments and don’t “friend” her friends. As it is, simply having parents is mortifying enough for some teens. Your kids’ friends don’t need evidence of your existence. 

10. Choose your battles. You will see the good, the bad, and the truly unfathomable. If you don’t want your teens to unfriend you, don’t ask them about every transgression. Keep it general. 

11.Be a model friend. Remember that they can see what you post, too. Model good behavior for your teens and keep your own digital footprint clean.

12. Review Facebook's Safety Center. Several FAQ's, from General Safety to Safety for Teens, provide detailed information on how to use Facebook safely.



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