Facebook is great! We love it! We use it! But is Facebook your child’s “friend?”
We adults have found the answer to keeping in touch with old and new friends without too much effort. We can brag about our kids, our life, share precious moments with just about EVERYONE. That’s the thing parents need to understand. When you post something, even with privacy settings, EVERYONE can see it. Did you know that?
Years ago, to be ahead of the game (and ahead of our kids) – we started using social networking sites, Facebook being one of them, so that we could share our experience and expertise with parents and children. Facebook suggests members be at least 13 years of age to use their site, but we know (and if you didn’t) that children from as young as 8 are using it. At the time we did this we had no idea we would be discussing online safety issues with children as young as 8. We want to tell these youngsters to “get off it” – “you shouldn’t be on it” but we know they are not going to listen. Their friends are on, they will get on at other places, they believe it is their right, and it is part of their social life. Children are hanging out on Facebook the same way we (their parents) hung out at the park growing up.
So KidSafe’s philosophy is to teach children how to be online safely and educate parents to supervise and be a part of their children’s online life. If you as a parent are not on FB and your child is – then have them teach you and set you up – a bonding and empowering experience for you and your child.
These are some important tips all parents need to know:
- Tell your children what you post online stays online FOREVER – so before you write anything, comment, post a picture, send an IM, email, etc. ask yourself: “would I want my parents, principal, police or a predator to see this” (wired safety.org)
o the goal: for children to stop and think about consequences before making decisions such as: posting pictures, making comments etc.. In our KidSafe lessons this is called using your inner safety voice (see our blog)
The same applies to us adults:
- Every time you post on Facebook about your upcoming vacation plans…you have now told the world and possibly a potential home intruder that your home will be vacant. Every time you post a picture of your child wearing a school uniform, sports team, karate school etc…you have just told a potential predator where your child goes to school etc. Think before you post.
- Computers should not be in children’s bedrooms.
- Computers should be in an open area of the house and parents need to tell their children from a young age, “using the computer is a privilege not a right – you need to use it responsibly and I am here to guide you and answer any of your questions.”
We could tell you hundreds of stories children and parents have shared with us about unsafe practices that happened when using the computer behind closed doors…its not safe..and quite frankly children need to know that they have boundaries while online. They may have friends that don’t have such boundaries and they will be grateful to you (though they might not say it) that you have given them an “out” from friends that want to do unsafe things online.
With all this said – KidSafe recommends children should not start using social networking until age 13-14. If you start putting these rules into place at a young age – (as soon as your child is on the computer) these rules become habits that can help children make safer and smarter choices as they grow-up. Now we told you we love Facebook – and we do….So – Please join our group on Facebook – KidSafe Foundation. If you want more information on online safety visit our web site www.kidsafefoundation.org under parent tips you will find a plethora of information.