One of the things parents today surely must deal with is the question of Facebook. Are your kids safe? Do they know about all the dangers and pitfalls of being online? Social networking sites continue to grow in membership everyday and lots of kids are getting addicted to spending time on them. Some are just talking to friends, but some are talking to folks they have never met before. Not just that, but kids are being exposed to all sorts of different value systems, concepts, and material that would normally be restricted from the home environment.
It’s estimated that over 60% of children between the ages of 13 and 17 years have established a presence online and created a personal profile at some online social networking site. Half of that number have posted photos of themselves online. The growing number of kids logging on to Facebook each day is a boon to predators, bullies, criminals, and all sorts of people who may not have the best interests of you or your kids in mind. Think your kids are safe? Let’s take a look at some of the statistics.
71% of Teens Receive Online Messages From Strangers
That 71% is just the reported amount of online messages from strangers received by teens. Think of all the unreported incidents everyday. As a parent, it’s a frightening prospect to think that your innocent, impressionable child can be approached online by a total stranger, perhaps even a predator. The scarier part is that 45% of those kids have been asked to reveal personal information online. Parents need to take charge of their children’s exposure on Facebook and know exactly what they are doing. One of the best things we did in our house was to place the computer in a common area where there is little or no privacy.
20% of Teens Say it is Safe to Share Personal Information Online
This one was particularly frightening to me as a parent. Think for a moment of all the teenagers you know that are on Facebook or some other social networking site. One in five of those kids think it’s safe to share their personal information and put it online. Younger children may be especially ignorant in this respect. There is no way that a 13-year-old knows the possible consequences and dangers of releasing their personal information to a total stranger online. Make sure you talk to your kids about providing personal information online.
30% of Teens Have Considered Meeting Someone They Have Only Talked to Online
I really had a hard time with this statistic. Imagine a teenager agreeing to meet someone whom they have never met, someone whom their parents do not know. Over half of teens believed it was safe to meet with someone in person after they had chatted for a while. Almost half of teens 16 to 17-years-old reported that their parents knew very little or nothing about what they do on the Internet. As parents, it’s time to start a continuing conversation with your kids about what happens online.
Nothing has really changed in the way a parent must act responsibly in today’s modern, high-tech world. Sure, it was different for us when we were kids, but our parents had the same universal concerns about strangers, bad influences, and changing values. The thing about parenting is you have to be involved, get your hands dirty, do the things that others won’t. Talk to your kids about Facebook and other social networking sites, let them know about the possible dangers and consequences. Look past the rolling eyes and sighs of exasperation and talk to them anyway.
Parenting without Facebook
Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later