Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites used by teens. It is a platform that can be utilized as an amazing tool to help people stay in touch and cultivate relationships and interests. However, teens can get themselves into some sitcky situations through the site, like oversharing, cyberbullying, or befriending strangers. Make sure your teenagers know these 8 Facebook rules to prevent these risks. These rules originated in Common Sense Media and are written by their Digital Media Director Shira Lee Katz.
Keep private information private. When filling out their profiles, teens can leave fields blank. The only pieces of information needed to create an account are their name, email address, and gender. There's no need for them to post their phone numbers or addresses.
Stick with friends. Have teens limit their privacy settings to Friends. That will restrict who sees their information, including pictures and videos. They also should indicate that only friends can look them up and message them.
Get a handle on their info. If teens don't restrict who can share their information, their personal data could end up in marketers' hands. Teens should be on the lookout for personal information requests -- like their birthday or music playlist -- from third parties. Suggest that they scan the ads that are served up to them on Facebook and notice how many relate to information in their profile.
Pause before posting. The Internet is teens' megaphone to the world. Encourage them to consider how what they do today will impact their reputation, their college and job prospects, their friendships, and their communities -- today, tomorrow, and 10 years from now. They should ask friends before tagging them in photos that could be embarrassing and hold back from saying things they wouldn't say to their faces.
Hunt beyond friends' feeds. News feeds from organizations or public figures can be a great source of knowledge. Teens can subscribe to individual feeds or search on general terms (poverty, engineering) by keywords as they research summer internships or learn more about causes they want to support.
Groom their timeline. Encourage teens to spruce up their timelines by hiding old posts or photos that might damage their reputation and highlighting choice achievements or opinions. It can be fun to update interests and movie tastes, too. Teens applying for summer internships or jobs can personalize their timeline by adding a favorite quotation or cover photo that speaks to their work experience and academic interests.
Use Facebook for homework. Create a group for study buddies. Work on group projects together this way, or seek classmates' help with tough concepts or assignments. Some teachers even incorporate Facebook into homework, like creating mock paper Facebook bios to profile historical figures.
Get feedback, give feedback. It's fun to comment and "like" other people's posts. Encourage teens to give support to others who are taking on big goals, like marathons, walks for a cause, and more. Facebook can also be a useful space to ask friends for recommendations (summer reading reccs, best public tennis courts) or to put work out there for friends' feedback.
Facebook can easily be used as a positive tool for teens. Teenagers can use Facebook to champion a cause that they're passionate about or to further connect and learn about potential colleges. As the social network site continues to grow, there are many added capabilities available to make Facebook navigation safer, more positive, and increasingly private. Be sure that you and your teens are taking advantage of these features!
As an added precaution, parents can be aware of their child's Facebook activities through uKnowKids. Help your teens to do everything that they can to leave a smart and relfective digital footprint.
Access the full Common Sense Media article here.