Most parents’ that live in Northern California (Silicon Valley Headquarters) tend to be pretty tech-savvy and ”in the know.” But, I’ve been surprised to find out that most parents are just the opposite when it comes to Facebook and how their children use this powerful social network.
And, I’m totally shocked that most parents’ have no idea that Facebook requires kids to be at least 13-years-old to sign up. And then talk about a shocker – it’s not unusual that parent’s didn’t realize that once asked, they find out that their 10-year-old already has a Facebook page, has already friended their 289 friends, and posted all of their pictures and videos… and let’s just add fuel to the fire – they also put their name, address and phone number AND forgot to set their privacy settings to private. YIKES!
Forgot? Maybe that’s a bad choice of words. Really, there child was never told by their parents (or anyone else) what to do and what NOT to do when it came to belong to a social network.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Have you ever seen your kids Facebook page?
- Are you “friends” with your child?
- If they’re a young teen, do you have their user/password so you can log on?
- Do you help them manage their online image and reputation?
- If your child has an account, are they at least 13-years-old?
- Are the privacy settings all set to private?
- Are their “friends” really their “friends” … or are there some stranger’s lurking in the background?
- Have you already sat down and talked to them about the rules of social networking use and the consequences of abuse?
- Have you spoken to them about cyberbullying prevention?
- Have you executed a formal Internet agreement that lays out your boundaries?
This IS the age of “over-parenting” … right? Where are the parents who research the heck out of schools? Vaccines? Movies? Teachers? Colleges? I remember way back then (well, not that long ago) when we the parents breathed a sigh of relief when our teenager was in their room, doing homework. We figured they were home and safe. Ha!
The power of Facebook in the hands of teenagers can be fun, interactive, intense, destructive AND permanent. Remember, what’s posted on the Internet stays on the Internet forever… which includes Facebook.
Why wouldn’t parents WANT to understand and get involved in their child’s constant connectivity? Is it the fear of having to learn a new technology? Or, is it because we parents think social networks are harmless and just a place to go and have fun? Maybe we think everything must be OK if our kids are getting good grades? The problem is, if parent’s aren’t proactive when it comes to parenting around technology… and instead just sit back and wait for a one-click nightmare to occur, it can be painful, leave permanent scares, and change our children forever.
I know, because it happened to me.
Now that 85% of prospective employers look at Facebook as a background check, and colleges look at applicant’s Facebook page as part of the admissions process, I think it’s worth spending a few minutes getting to know how our kids are using Facebook.
Trust me; it’s worth every second of your time.
Shawn Marie Edgington is America’s leading Texpert, a cyberbullying prevention expert and your go-to cyber safety mom. Shawn’s the author of Read Between the Lines: A Humorous Guide to Texting with Simplicity and Style, and the new book The Parent’s Guide to Texting, Facebook and Social Media, the creator of the One-Click Safety Series and an empowerment speaker. She’s the CEO of a national insurance firm, where she provides risk management to clients across the country.
After a personal experience she had with her 16-year-old daughter being threatened by text and on Facebook, Shawn has made it her mission to show parents how to take the steps necessary to prevent their child’s social and mobile networking from turning into every parent’s one-click nightmare.
Shawn provided her expert advice in the upcoming documentary Submit: The Virtual Reality of Cyberbullying, on Fox Business, View from the Bay, KRON 4 News, The San Francisco Chronicle, CBS Radio, American Cheerleader Magazine, CNN Radio, NPR, and various media outlets across the country.
Meet Shawn or learn more about her new book and to get your free parent resources at: www.shawnedgington.com.