4 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe on Facebook

3 min read

18 September 2012,

Social Media

4 Ways to Keep Your Kids Safe on Facebook

The Internet can be a very dangerous world for kids and teenagers of young ages, and it's of course the parents' job to keep their own children safe. But with the advancements in social media over the past 5 years, it's becoming easier and easier for kids to create their own social profiles and begin their own, sometimes private, interaction with complete strangers across the entire span of the Internet.

In the past, it's been easy to find ways to block kids from sites that aren't safe, but it's now all too easy for kids to fake an identity on Facebook to trick it to think that they are older, so it's up to the parents once again to find ways to keep the kids safe even as the technology advances. Here are 4 tips to get you started with keeping your child, or any children in your life, safe on Facebook.

Sit With Them to Make a Profile

When a user signs up for a Facebook account, they are required to enter a date of birth, and from that, Facebook determines the user's age and therefore the features of Facebook that the particular user can access. When a child or a teen signs up for a Facebook account, however, they often easily manipulate their birth date to make Facebook think they are older so that they have more open access to the social platform.

To combat this, simply sit down at the computer with your child and help them create their profile. Help them set it all up, too, and make sure you discuss with them what is and is not acceptable to post on their profile and what you think they should be sharing with the Facebook world or not.

Set the Security Settings Yourself

While sitting with your child or teenager to create the initial Facebook account for them, make sure you go in and personally set their security settings. Be sure that only their Facebook friends can see things like photos, status updates and any other personal posts.

Set the "search" settings, as well, so that the findability of your child is limited, and be extra careful with any contact information you allow your child to list on their profile. While some contact info (usually like an email address) is typically harmless, things like giving out your cell phone number over the social platform are usually a bad idea.

Regulate the Child's Time on Facebook

They are still your children, or at least you have some authority over the child you are trying to protect on Facebook, so enforce that authority by strictly regulating the time they are or are not allowed to browse the site and interact with friends. For example, give them an hour after dinner each night to go on Facebook and do what they want, but no more than that hour.

While it may be easier to regulate at home, school is another issue entirely. Most schools, thankfully, have caught on to just how dangerous Facebook can be to children and teenagers and have blocked the site on all school machines, but if your child uses a smart phone, you'll have to also regulate their use of Facebook from that device.

Friend Your Kids

If your kids are setting up Facebook accounts of their own, you need to make sure you also set up one of your own. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate and it doesn't even need to be a full profile - just an account to monitor your kids' pages from.

Once you've set up your profile, become "Friends" with your children. This way, you'll be able to see all of the photos they post, all of the status updates they write and even all of the people that they become friends with over Facebook. Make sure you keep a close eye on their profiles, and if you see anything at all questionable (like a friend who you've never seen or heard of before, or is from out of town), don't hesitate to ask your child about it and lay down a bit of authority if you feel they are not an appropriate "Friend" to have on Facebook.

The overall must-remember here is that you are the adult, and your children should respect your authority and most of all respect your concern for their safety. Often times sitting your children down and explaining just how dangerous Facebook can be and why you are concerned for their safety will get a good message across to them. In the other cases, more regulation will be necessary, but it's still possible to allow your children to enjoy the social world of Facebook while still keeping them safe online.