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Facebook Safety for Kids

March 14, 2012

Social networking has become a hobby for even the youngest of children.  Websites such as Facebook have quickly become the go to option for kids when they are bored or when they want to catch up with what is going on with their friends.  The Kids Safety @ Facebook survey conducted by Minor Monitor found that 38% of all kids on Facebook are under the age of 13 despite the guidelines suggested for use by the website. It also found that 30% of children use Facebook for 2 hours or more each day.  For this reasons, it is essential that parents are always thinking of safety first when allowing their kids to use the internet and social networking sites such as Facebook.

What are the Dangers Associated with Facebook?

Studies have shown that parents are no strangers to the dangers that exist on websites such as Facebook.  In fact, an alarming 74% of parents whose kids use Facebook admit to being concerned about their child’s safety.  Why, then, are so many parents reluctant to take precautionary measures against the many dangers?  The answer is the vast majority of parents know the dangers but feel like their child is responsible enough to let them know when a difficult situation arises.  Another answer is that parents often feel that “friending” their children will magically help the dangers disappear. Unfortunately, “friending” only scratches the surface of the parental control needed for children when they use the website.  Listed below are a few of the most prevalent dangers that children face when they use Facebook.

  • Sexual predators
  • Sharing too much information
  • Giving informational access to strangers
  • Cyber bullying
  • Exposure to pornography
  • Viruses
  • Sexting
  • Risk of identity theft
  • Internet addiction
  • Hate crimes
  • Learning about drugs and alcohol

The dangers listed above are real and happen every single day on Facebook.  Children are often coerced into things that they would not necessarily take part in if faced with it in the real world.  The online environment makes it seem surreal and easier to take part in.  To avoid the many dangers associated with Facebook, parents must teach and utilize Facebook safety for kids.

 Teaching Kids Facebook Safety

Regardless of the guidelines set forth by the website, children find ways to gain access to the website with or without their parent’s permission.  Parents must be sure that safety issues are addressed and that children are putting forth effort as well. The following is a guide for parents when teaching kids Facebook safety.

  • Login/password information. Keeping the login/password information from parents should never be an option.  Parents should have unlimited access.  Children should be taught to never give out login/password information to people who may ask for it online.  Similarly, they should be instructed to never give out personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, and birthdays either.
  • Making the profile “private.”  A parent should always check the settings on their child’s Facebook profile.  A private profile can’t be viewed by people unless they are friends with the child.  Setting the profile to public view will allow strangers unlimited access to the profile. Kids should be instructed to keep the profile settings private, and parents should check this setting often. Facebook has taken some precautionary measures to keep users safe.  Parents should take advantage of these built-in safety features.
  • Posting photos.  Posting pictures on Facebook can give away information such as location.  Online sexual predators will also use what kids think is a harmless photo to commit internet crimes.  If a parent does allow his or her child to post photos on Facebook, kids should be instructed to post head shots only.
  • Friending.  This is perhaps one of the most important parts of being safe while using Facebook.  Kids should not be allowed to accept friend requests from strangers.  Instructing kids to “accept” people they know and “decline” people they don’t will greatly reduce their chances of being exposed to the many dangers that Facebook can bring about.
  • Information that is “posted” can be viewed by everyone.  Some kids simply do not realize that the information they post on status updates or on the page can be viewed by people on their friends list.  Many times they are simply unaware of the confounds of Facebook and how it works. To protect children who have access to the website, parents must do their best to explain the vastness of the website and the dangers that are presented by it.
  • Turning off “chat.” Facebook has a chat feature that can also pose a problem.  To protect children on Facebook, it is important that parents practice internet control and monitor the settings by keeping the “chat” feature turned off.   Doing this will allow parents to better control who their kids are talking to while on the website.
  • Limiting time spent on the website.  Believe it or not, Facebook can be addicting.  If a child feels the constant need to be on Facebook, spends excessive time socializing with friends via the website, and gets angry when Facebook privileges are taken away, he or she may be addicted.  Kids should be aware of what Facebook addiction is and instructed on how to overcome it.  It is the parents responsibility to use internet control to ensure that the website doesn’t engulf their child in an effort to help prevent addiction.

 Taking Facebook Safety to the Next Level

With a large portion of Facebook users being children, protecting them from the dangers must be taken to the next level.  While talking to children about internet safety is recommended, there is another option available to help increase the level of security and make Facebook a safer place for children regardless of how old they are.  Parental control software designed specifically for parents who are concerned for their child’s safety on Facebook can help.  Websites such as minormonitor.com have designed parental control software to aid parents in protecting children while using the website.  With internet crimes on the rise and Facebook becoming one of the main sources, it is no longer enough just to talk to kids about the dangers and give them a few rules to follow.  Parents must take safety to the next level by investing in software that will give them unlimited access to what their children are doing while on the website.  It is without a doubt the new wave of protection that has proven to be beneficial to parents in keeping their kids safe on Facebook.

The information above can help parents protect their kids from the many dangers presented by Facebook. Internet crimes do not discriminate with age.  Sometimes the younger the potential victim, the easier the crime is to commit.  Parents should be encouraged to take initiative and discover new ways to protect their kids from the crimes.


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