Parents know that there are certain things we have to teach our children to handle responsibly before we set them free. Most children progress from tricycle to training wheels to big kid bike under parental supervision. It’s only after they’ve learned to ride safely, wear a helmet, and obey the rules of the road that we set them free to ride around the neighborhood. Getting that first driver’s license is an important rite of passage for most teens, but few parents would hand over the car keys to a brand new driver and allow him or her to hit Route 66 for a cross-country road trip. New freedoms are first exercised within boundaries. Cars and bicycles are one thing, but what about teaching your child to navigate social media? Do you have Facebook training wheels?
Let’s just assume for the moment that your child is at least 13 and not one of the 7.5 million Facebook users under the age of 13. There are good reasons for your child to use Facebook and other forms of social media. Here’s the big one: in today’s world, this is how adults communicate. We teach our children how to answer the phone, eat with good table manners, and speak to adults politely. We need to teach them how to appropriately navigate social media as well. Facebook’s user controls don’t always make that easy, however. One out of five adult users don’t utilize Facebook’s privacy settings. Does your child? If you child was one of the one million minors who experienced abuse, threats, or harassment last year, would he or she know how to handle it? Would you know that it had happened?
Just like driving with a learner’s permit, your child’s first ventures into the world of social media should be a supervised learning experience. The first step is to monitor your child’s account. “Friend” your child on Facebook and make sure you can view all posts, status updates, and photos. Warn your children never to friend strangers online. Make use of Facebook’s privacy and security settings and turn off instant personalization. Be aware of your child’s online activity and use it as an opportunity for dialogue. If your child accesses multiple social media accounts from multiple devices you might also want to consider adding monitoring tools to your parenting toolbox.
uKnow.com is striving to provide tools that help parents teach their children how to use Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts. In a sence, we're trying to provide parents with a pair of social network training wheels. Our tools can help you monitor all Facebook message activities, keep tabs on your child’s friends list, and quickly survey your child’s online activity. We can help you teach your children to safely navigate the world of social media.