When it comes to protecting your children, nothing is more important. As children start to make friends and they gain exposure to the media, they begin to learn more about social networking and other trends. Facebook and MySpace may be words of fear for many parents that have heard horror stories about online predators taking advantage of innocent children. However we all know the day will come when our children will ask the inevitable question; “Can I have a Facebook account?” To help with your parental fears about Facebook, we have created some tips that will make you feel at ease:
Tip # 1 – Talk about it
The best thing to do for your child is to seriously talk to them about creating a Facebook account. If you don’t listen to their argument for a Facebook page, you may find that they go behind your back and lie to get a Facebook account. Children lie to get a Facebook page mostly because of peer pressure. If all of their friends have a Facebook page, it is only natural for your child to want one as well. At least listen to them and then decide on when you feel is an appropriate time for them to open a Facebook account.
Tip # 2 – Rules
Once you set a time for when you feel your child is ready to have a Facebook page, set some rules for having a Facebook account. We all know there are a number of dangers when you are involved with social networking sites, but if you take the right precautions, you won’t need to worry too much. Some of the rules you should set include the following:
· Do not add any friends that you do not already know. Absolutely no adding adults unless it is a close relative. Adding people from your church or schoolteachers is walking a fine line and it’s a wise idea to avoid adding them.
· No uploading pictures that clearly identify your home or areas in which you live.
· Personal information is not allowed. Let your child know that they need to use a nickname or only their surname. Then they cannot include their email or any other personal information. Even adding the name of their soccer team is giving online predators exactly what they need to find them.
· Set an agreement about random screenings. This means you and your child will sit down and you will go over their page. Ask your child to show you their pictures along with their page so you can read over the discussions your child is having online.
· Their profile must be set to private so only their friends are allowed to see their information and pictures.
Tip # 3 – Create your own page
If you are truly worried about giving your child access to the social networking world, join it yourself to see what it is all about. Once you are on the site, you will find that it is actually a lot of fun and it’s a great way to catch up with your friends. If your child has a Facebook account, make sure they add you as a friend. This way you can see what they are posting and you know what types of friends are on Facebook. Even if they only accept school friends on their Facebook page, they may still struggle with other online problems like bullying. You don’t even need to embarrass them by leaving comments on their page, simply being added to their friends list is all you need to make sure your child is following the rules you set.