Earlier this week, Facebook announced its plans to start allowing children to use the social networking site, which has caused plenty of controversy among parents and lawmakers alike. Under the new rules, children younger than 13-years old would be able to open an account, opening up lots of new advertising channels.
However, the proposed rules are causing concerns about privacy and children’s safety. To combat those concerns, Facebook has suggested that children would be able to open an account that connects with their parents’ accounts, and parents would be allowed to decide who their kids can “friend,” and what applications they can use.
If the new rule goes through, chances are that your own children may want to open a Facebook account, and it’s important that you monitor their behavior while they use the site. You can still allow your children to enjoy Facebook while making sure they use the site safely and responsibly.
Here are five ways to monitor your child’s Facebook usage:
- Talk to them about proper online etiquette – You need to teach your kids that they should act the same way online as they do in person. Children can be very mean, and given the number of Facebook-related bullying incidents throughout the last couple of years, it’s important to reinforce the idea of common kindness. Also, make sure you tell your kids to let you know if they witness or are victim to any bullying-related events.
- Set rules and restrictions around when and where they can access the site – It’s easy to get addicted to online sites like Facebook – many studies have shown that even some adults are dependent on the social network. So to avoid any chance of your children becoming lazy or falling behind in school, you should set certain parameters around where and when they can use Facebook. For instance, you could allow them to log on for 30 minutes each night after they’ve eaten dinner and finished their homework.
- Add them as a friend – Although a lot of kids think it’s embarrassing to “friend” their parents on Facebook, it’s a great way to monitor what they’re doing on the site. Let your children know that the conditions of signing up for an account include adding you as a friend so you can occasionally check in and see how they’re doing.
- Pay attention to their profile and their posts – You probably have your own circle of friends that you like to keep up with on Facebook, but it’s important to add your children to that list. Take a look every day to see what your child is doing on the site – who they’re friending, what games they’re playing, what changes they’re making to their profiles, and what status updates they’re posting. This can give you good insight into what’s going on in your child’s life that they might not normally tell you about.
- Determine punishments for overusing or abusing Facebook – Just like any other privilege, children need to know that using Facebook is a perk that can be taken away at any time. Whether you’re going to ground them or take away their computer, let your kids know that any misbehavior will result in serious reactions from you.
If you follow these simple steps, you should be able to allow your children to engage in the positive Facebook experience, all while making sure they do so responsibly and safely.