It’s hard for parents to decide what age is appropriate for their children to interact with much of the social media of today. You’ll hear a lot of parents ask “When should I get them a cell phone” or “Is he old enough for a Nintendo DS?” or “At what age should I buy her an ipod?”. Now all the buzz is about facebook. Your children want to be part of the social craze, but are they old enough? Now with the new Timeline in place, it seems like everyone can get a glimpse of your whole life within mere minutes. So a parent has to ask themselves one thing. “Do I want to expose my child to the world?”. Most parents’ first response is no. Which is completely understandable. We all know there are internet predators and crazy people out there. Why take the chance? Then you start to think of your kid’s friends all socializing on facebook and your child begging you for a facebook page because well “everyone else has one”. So, what do you do? Well, the truth is you can let your child have a facebook page and keep them safe in the process.
If you check the facebook website, it states that you need to be at least 13 years of age to sign up for an account. This seems reasonable, since there is content on facebook that is not going to be appropriate for small children. So if your child is under 13 and pleading for a facebook account, then save it for a good 13th birthday present. Still, even 13 seems young. Even though we all worry about our children, we can’t keep them shut out from the world. Would you forbid your child from ever going to a slumber party? Would you tell you child that they can’t walk to the bus because of predators? Of course not. Instead you would supervise the situation so that it was safe for your child. You would probably talk with the parents hosting the sleep over, and you would most certainly walk your child to the bus stop until they were older. The same goes with the internet. You must supervise the situation.
Know the username and password of your child’s account. This way, no matter where they are or what computer they are using, you can still check up on their account. If your child has a facebook account and won’t give you their username and password, there is software you can install on your computer that will pick up the information for you. It’s also known as spyware. Spyware is not a comfortable word for most people, unless of course you’re spying on your own computer.
Don’t let them post their picture. Not having a picture of your child up on facebook is a good idea. This is a good way of making your child less of a target for predators.
Set the privacy settings to friends only. If you go into the privacy setting, you can make it so that only friends of friends can send friend requests and only friends can send messages. This may not seem like much but it’s better than the whole world being able to contact you child.
The most important step in monitoring your child’s facebook is to simply keep your computer public. Keep the computer accessible to everyone in the home. This way, it’s easier to monitor your child’s facebook activity.
So what is the appropriate age to allow your child a facebook page? Although the facebook website says 13, ultimately it’s up to you as the parent. If you do decide to set up a facebook account for your child, at least there are precautions you can take as a parent to make sure your child is safe.
Do you know of any other ways to protect your child on facebook? Please let us know and leave a comment!
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