The Parent-Kid Cyber-Safety: Facebook Edition
From the bus stop to the home computer, kids are vulnerable little creatures. Even in the comfort of home sitting right beside you on the couch, your child is essentially exposed to online predators and Internet dangers while playing on a laptop. And the moment they log onto Facebook, they’re open to whole new world that, without boundaries and limitations, threatens their safety. While accepting your child’s plea to join Facebook, keep the following in mind:
Familiar Friend Requests
As part of your child’s Facebook privileges, explain that every friend request will be run by you. Kids should treat social interactions on Facebook just like they do in real life, which is why enforcing the “stranger danger” rule for Facebook is a good approach. Communication can only move forward if the child knows and trusts the person with your approval. After a quick friend request, kids can become targets of stalkers, sexual predators, a phishing scam and identity theft. Know your child’s Facebook login and password and regularly monitor their account. You can also manage your child’s social media habits by keeping the computer in an open space in your home. Permit them to log on for a certain amount of time during a particular time of day.
No longer is bullying restricted to buses, playgrounds, cafeterias and beneath football stadium bleachers. Adolescents, tweens and teens are cyberbullied or cyberbullies themselves — and Facebook becomes the weapon of choice. Insulting status updates and photos can create serious personal anguish, resulting in low self-esteem and anti-social behavior. Cyerbullying can be so detrimental that school authorities and police officials become involved. Earlier this year, a 15-year-old boy in Colorado cyberbullied another student using the photo-sharing app Instagram. Photos were captioned with “derogatory or sexual comments,” explains CBSNews.com.
Create an open forum about malicious communication on Facebook and the topic of bullying on the Internet, whether you suspect that your child’s a victim of bullying or bullying others. Foster a relationship with your child so that they feel comfortable coming to you to handle a cyberbullying scenario.
If you suspect that your child’s the bully, the first step is to avoid denial. No parent wants to admit that their kid is causing harm to others. Do your best to not turn a blind eye to your child’s behavior. The consequences of cyberbullying are far-reaching and can even become fatal. A decisive lack of attention and responsibility for bullying behavior is practically advocating verbal violence and psychological harm among your child and peers. Avoid avoidance.
Facebook Friend Your Kids
Becoming friends with your child on Facebook invites you into their social network. Your child may even feel more protected and secure having you on their side. As mentioned by SociallyActive.com, the most harm children experience on Facebook isn’t caused by their own actions but rather the actions of their connections. Even if children don’t act like it, adolescents and teens actually need and want structure and boundaries set before them. During such impressionable ages, children feel safer and more in control with parental guidance. A presence in your child’s digital life, whether you’re initiating open conversations or installing online controls to safeguard information, creates a harmonious relationship between the Internet and your family.
- What are some other great ways to protect your children online? Please share!