To be able to join social networking websites like Facebook, one must be at least 18 years of age. Everyone knows, however, that many people below 18 are already enjoying the usage of this very popular site. Many middle school kids aged 12 – 14 have their Facebook accounts.
While it is not exactly a crime for these youngsters to be on Facebook, parents should still be cautious and alert for their children’s safety. Reports say that many concerns happen in networking sites. Cyber-bullying and harassment have been quite common, and in some instances, children have become targets of adults who have very bad intentions, pedophiles for instance.
As parents try to be vigilant, it would be very helpful to set rules for the children and see to it that these are followed. One simple but useful way is for a parent to be included in the child’s friend list. That way, the parent can see the child’s wall and be able to check on the activities on the child’s Facebook account. The applications would obviously be visible, and the usual exchange of conversation would be readable.
While being a friend of the child on Facebook is a good thing, parents should know their limits. They should be very careful not to humiliate the child. The craze for this site has become so huge because kids have made this into some sort of a venue for them to hang out with friends. Parents should remember that they were also teens once in their life, so they should know how kids want their own space. Being vigilant and concerned is their role, but they should also be aware not to invade privacy and become overly protective.
So when your child becomes your friend on Facebook, how to you behave?
A) Assuming that you helped your child in setting up the account, do not play detective by actually using the password to access and check on your child’s messages. Your child deserves his or her privacy. You wouldn’t want anyone prying on your own inbox. If your child wants to change is password, let him or her do it. But remind him or her that you are always hoping that the communication lines between you are open, especially in case something that needed to be discussed comes up, regarding Facebook or other concerns.
B) Don’t put comments on your child’s wall. If you have your own Facebook, then exchange messages and comments with your friends. You share the same interests with them and usually are on the same wavelength. Your child is a teenager so they have their own lingo, their own brand of humor, and their own world. You may check for very offensive or derogatory comments and talk to your child about it, but never put a comment next to his or her friends’ comments. Never reprimand your child’s friends on the wall. If they have a thread of comments where they are enjoying a topic, refrain from joining them. This would embarrass your child. By simply reading could give you the chance to get to know their current interests and issues.
C) Never fight with your child’s friends. Although many would find it offensive, many kids do a little name calling and teasing here and there. They would sometimes have running jokes that you as a parent, and as an adult, could be clueless about. If somebody calls your child a name, stop yourself from typing a message to fight back. Never put a comment on your child’s wall in defense of your child. Observe for bullying issues, and directly ask your child if something serious is happening. Be cautious but don’t over react.
D) Don’t remove or put anything on your child’s profile. Assuming you know your child’s password, do not access so that you can delete comments. Trust your child’s judgment. Many kids are mature enough to know when to ignore some things, and when to assert themselves. Also, once they see that certain applications are useless, or certain posts may be quite offensive, they should know when to put it down. Otherwise, you can discuss this with them. But never to things for them, just to please yourself. Respect your child’s domain. Do not add applications that you find cute. Some things would work for you, but could not for your child. You have different tastes, interests and liking.
E) On your own Facebook account, do not tag your child without his permission if you want to add photos. When you tag your child, your child’s friends would most likely see the photos. Some kids are a little sensitive about this, especially if these pictures were taken when they were still very small. Take note that younger Facebook users prefer cartoonish profile pictures, or sometimes just add group photos. If you want to show some cute pictures with captions to your own friends, do not tag your child without asking him first. Just share it with your own friends because most of them are parents like you who appreciate things like this.