Your child is in a very important, and very influential time right now. From the very first time your child asks if he or she can have a Facebook account, the worries start coming.
How will I keep an eye on their activity?
What if something bad happens?
How can I protect them, while still giving them privacy?
I've heard so much about cyberbullying, how can I prevent it?
You probably feel pressured to allow your kids to be like all the other "cool" kids at school.After all, if your son doesn't have a Facebook, how will he ever know what his friends are up to? If your daughter doesn't have a Facebook, how will she keep tabs on all the news that's going around school.
Is my child ready for Facebook?
Many parents aren't aware that Facebook has age guidelines. No one under the age of thirteen is permitted to have a Facebook account. Of course, this doesn't stop many well-meaning parents from helping their sixth grade (or even fifth grade) child from opening up an account with a phony birth year. What those parents might not realize, is that they are setting a very dangerous precident for their child that says, "It's OK to lie, as long as you get what you want."
Of course, no parent wants to teach their child to lie; and many of them open up Facebook accounts for their child before the age of thirteen without considering that this is what they are demonstrating.
Have You Fallen Into The Trap?
If you've found that you've fallen into the trap of wanting your child to be "cool" with a Facebook presence before he or she is old enough, there's still something you can do about it. Experts agree that children actually have more respect for parents who can admit that they made a mistake. It only proves that you're a human being, just like they are. If you explain to your child that he or she is too young for Facebook and that you were wrong to help them lie, they might be angry; but you'll be teaching them a new lesson: When you do make a mistake, it's important to come clean and make it right.
Of course, if you have been avoiding opening a Facebook account for your child due to their age, it's perfectly fine for you to blame their "inability" to have an account on the terms and conditions of Facebook. Later on, your child will respect you for following the rules, even if they're not happy now.
Here are some bases you should have covered before setting up your child's first Facebook account:
Computer literacy: Most kids are more knowledgeable about computers than their parents, but for those who aren’t - make sure they know their way around a computer and the internet before opening an account. Ask yourself - do you know enough to be able to guide them?
Social Networking proficiency: Are you yourself familiar enough with social networking sites to be able to teach your kids how to safely use them?
Time and energy: Are you ready to be actively involved? You need to be there, hovering over their shoulders, so to speak, guiding, explaining, monitoring. That’s quite a commitment. Are you ready to invest the time and energy needed? (And get used to seeing POS written in their chat - it means Parent Over Shoulder).
Danger awareness: Are you ready to help your kids understand the potential risks and dangers, such as cyberbullying and sexting, so they are well informed and prepared?
Open communication: Do you have a good relationship with your kids? Are you able to maintain open, honest, and frequent communication with your children? This is critical as your children should feel comfortable enough to talk to you about any problem or discomfort they experience.
Right vs. wrong: Are your kids emotionally mature and responsible enough? Can they understand the difference between appropriate and destructive on line behavior? Are they capable of practicing
Facebook and internet etiquette?
Facebook Monitoring Tools: For many parents a good "stepping stone" for their childs firstFacebook is allowing him or her to use the social network with parental monitoring enabled. Do you research and find the best one that will allow you the access level you desire.