Is Your Child on Facebook? What You Need to Know!

Provided by Modern Mom

Facebook is great! Millions love it! Millions use it! But is Facebook your child's "friend"? Adults enjoy Facebook for the ability to keep in touch with old and new friends without too much effort. You can brag about your kids, your life, share precious moments with just about everyone — and that's the thing parents need to understand.

8-year-olds?

Years ago, to be ahead of the game (and ahead of the kids), adults started using social-networking sites, including Facebook, so that they could share experience and expertise with other parents. At the time, discussing online-safety issues with children as young as 8 sounded foreign, but despite Facebook's suggestion that members be at least 13 years old, many children that young have profile pages. You may want to tell these youngsters to "get off it" and "you shouldn't be on it," but they likely will not listen. Their friends are on, they will get on at other places — they believe it is their right and part of their social life. Children are hanging out on Facebook the same way their parents hung out at the park growing up.

Teach your kids to be online safely

KidSafe's philosophy is to teach children how to be online safely and to teach parents to supervise and be a part of their children's online life. If you as a parent are not on Facebook and your child is, then have them teach you and set up a profile page for you. It can be a bonding and empowering experience for you and your child. Once you're online, these are some important tips all parents need to know:

It's forever ...

Tell your children what you post online stays online forever, so before they write anything, comment, post a picture, or send an IM or email, they should ask themselves: "Would I want my parents, principal, police or a predator to see this?" (wiredsafety.org). The goal is for children to stop and think about consequences before making decisions that can't be undone. In KidSafe lessons, this is called using your inner safety voice.

The same applies to 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 or karate uniform, you have just told a potential predator where your child lives and goes to school. Think before you post.

Where should I put the computer?

Computers should not be in children's bedrooms. They should be in an open area of the house, and parents need to tell their children from a young age that using the computer is a privilege — not a right. They need to use it responsibly, and you are there to guide them and answer any of their questions.

With that said ...

There are hundreds of stories children and parents have shared about unsafe practices that happened when using the computer behind closed doors. It's just not safe, and 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 who want to do unsafe things online. KidSafe recommends children should not start using social networking until age 13 or14. 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.

Shameless plug

Please join the KidSafe Foundation group on Facebook. If you want more information on online safety, visit www.kidsafefoundation.org and click on "parent tips."

Enjoy this article? Learn more at www.ModernMom.com