Positive Ways Teens Can Use Social Networking and Facebook for Kids

June 14, 2011 at 2:21 PM

social networkingMaybe it's just the parent in me, but when I hear the words “social networking” and “kids” in the same sentence I get a little tense worrying about my kids safety. There are so many things we need to worry about when our kids start using Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter: cyberbullies, online predators, sexting, loss of privacy – the list goes on. But don't forget that social networks can be a great way for our tweens and teens to get involved in good causes, spend their time productively, and do their own small part to make the world a better place.How can our kids use social networking positively? For one, social networks are the world's best platform to reach out to others (especially other teens) about issues that matter.

    • Teens can organize a local service project or start a drive for canned goods, school supplies, or hygiene items for an area shelter or charity.

    • Kids can raise awareness for a cause like teen suicide prevention, leukemia research, or literacy for children in low-income neighborhoods.

    • Teens can get the word out about worthy organizations like the book drive at their local public library or a charity that provides immunizations to third-world countries. Or they can join an existing Facebook group for a cause or organization they care about.

Kids can also use social networking sites to learn in exciting new ways that weren't available to you and I when we were growing up:

    • They can keep up on current events by following their state's senators on Twitter or friending a news organization on Facebook.

    • They can use some of the educational Facebook apps like Cite Me (how to appropriately cite sources in APA and MLA,) Books iRead  (an online book club of sorts,) or JSTOR search (full text research articles on a variety of scholarly subjects – any of which are infinitely superior to Wikipedia.)

    • Many companies have job search apps on Facebook and Twitter that can be useful for your high school senior. Younger teens interested in starting their own babysitting, dog walking, or lawn mowing business can set up a Facebook page advertising their services. (Just make sure to supervise the content and set up the appropriate privacy settings.)

Of course this isn't a comprehensive list of all the good ways kids can use social networking. But it's important as parents to remember that in addition to trying to safeguard against the negative aspects of social networking, we also have a responsibility to teach kids the positive ways they can use social networking to benefit themselves and others.

-Article Contributed by Jenny Evans

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Posted by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

Topics: digital parenting, sexting, cyberbullying, social media, Parental Intelligence, Facebook, Internet Safety, Teens, online predators, twitter, online safety tips, prevention, For Tweens & Teens

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