Ways to Supervise Your Kids on Facebook
Ways to Supervise Your Kids on Facebook
Over the past few years, I have noted that teenagers are becoming a wild lot on Facebook. It is appalling to see the level of inappropriate photos, profanities and rudeness associated with them when they connect on Facebook. The funny thing is that teens are quick to kick each other out of a discussion, block and unblock their friends whenever they feel like doing it. Some will even write their messages in capital letters as if to scold or shout at those to whom the messages are directed to. In a nutshell, teens can be very nasty online and their behavior or chat is not the same as that of adults when they are online. Most probably, this can be associated to lack of proper supervision by adults.
It is very surprising how these teenagers are easily connecting online all day and night but no one is supervising them. Some of them even stay awake into the late hours of the night but no one seems to be concerned about it. What are you as a parent doing about this issue? It is important to teach our teens how to behave responsibly online. It is important to put some restrictions on the amount of time that your teenage son should spend on Facebook.
It is saddening to see that there is not much education that is being provided to many teens on how to relate with Facebook and other social media sites. It is important to educate them against posting their own personal pictures and information online including home addresses, phone numbers and even their personal plans for the next few days. It is unfortunate that most of them especially girls are deriving their identity, importance and self-image from how many likes they get whenever they post a picture or information. The negative or positive comments they receive on their posts create a hunger for them to take photograph themselves (selfies) and post just for their friends most of whom they have never even met or hardly know. With cyber bullying, many teens are increasingly becoming depressed and unhappy owing to the things that are happening to them on the social media platform. The situation is serious but there is no proper supervision of teens by parents as they use Facebook.
Below are some few real life examples on what is happening to teens while on Facebook. We will change the names to help protect their identity.
Julie is in her teenage years but has been using Fcaebook ever since she was a lower primary school kid. It is obvious that she had to falsify her age to enable her open an account or someone else did it on her behalf. One day, Julie lost her smartphone and that meant losing all her contacts with it. She then went ahead to try and recover her friend’s contacts by posting a message on Facebook requesting that her friends send her their numbers. Within a short time, her timeline was full of private contacts from her Facebook friends and these simply linked to their Facebook accounts that were full of private information and photos. Notably so, the information available on her friends’ Facebook accounts included their schools and home addresses.
Sally’s parents were very strict and could not allow her to open an account on Facebook before teen-age. However, at the age of 13, her parents loosened the nose and allowed her to open one. She quickly put up her own photo as her profile pic. Within a week, Sally had more than 50 FB friends and joined a conversation group which was streaming with images and photos from the group members.
Hsiang Weon’s parents allowed him to open an account on Facebook when he joined Form 1 since all his classmates by then had their own. Although they were together throughout the school hours, they would use Facebook daily and relate through various conversation groups they had started. Within a short time, these group conversations were streaming with inappropriate photos from the young group members. When his mother discovered what was happening, she reprimanded him and ordered him to close the account immediately.
Children on social media are easily influenced especially if they are using it for the first time. For the first time, the youngsters discover that the whole world is open to them and the excitement builds up dangerously especially if it is not controlled or curbed. They come face to face with peer pressure to force them conform with their peers who consider it not a big deal to share some inappropriate pictures or vulgar information online.
How to supervise your Teenager on Facebook
- The first step should be to restrict your child from opening a Facebook account until he/she has attained the required minimum age. In most cases, those who are exposed to the internet will start pestering their parents from as early as 7 years simply because their classmates or friends have one. However, the fact that others have one does not make it right for your child to open a Facebook account. There is a good reason as to why age restriction has been put in place.
- When the time comes, assist the teen in opening an account.
- Help your team and guide him on how to set the highest privacy levels for his Facebook account.
- Train your teen everything you know about online safety such as not posting private information online or even sharing his or her password with anyone else.
- Let your child know that whatever they post online is no longer private and deleting it does not necessarily erase it from the online database. You should teach the teen to think hard before posting anything online.
- As your teen uses Facebook in the early stages, take time to monitor him or her. This can continue until such a time when you are confident that he or she is using the social media responsibly in the light of what you have taught him.
- Do not allow the child to post anything inappropriate including photos which they know might be embarrassing to them.
- Build a relationship with the teen such that they can come to you in case of any cyber bullying. Encourage him/her to talk to you in case such a thing happens.
- Set clear limits on Facebook usage including the amount of time they can be online, what not to post. They should also keep off when they are supposed to be doing their homework or attending to other chores.
- Train your teen on how to be responsible while using the internet by talking openly about netiquette or online behavior.
There are some schools both international and private that offer module lessons on cyber security especially when using social media. In case you are not able to speak to your child, it could be prudent to consider such modules as a way of keeping your child secure.
How closely should the supervision be?
For a moment, you will have to forget about privacy invasion when dealing with your teen. This is very necessary and more so important for parents as it helps them to become responsible while online. Your teen will require proper guidance and this can only be provided if you are aware of what is happening.
The strategy you use totally depends on you. You might ask your teen to accept your friend request on Facebook or make sure you have his/her password which you used when setting up the account. This will help you see what he is posting or what he has access to especially if he is part of group conversations. It is better to discourage your teen from posting photos of him or her-self while in school uniform with a badge visible.
Some parents find it okay not to befriend their teens on Facebook and instead talk with them openly since they live together under the same roof. Face-to-face conversations are always effective when compared to befriending the teen on Facebook and posting on each other’s wall. You are however free to do it if you feel it is important but always avoid writing on each others’ wall especially on things that know can be handled face-to-face.
Checking your teen’s Facebook messages can help open up communication channels between the two of you. You can freely discuss anything she is facing or the things her friends are posting and use them to educate her on the need to be responsible. It is not appropriate to keep quiet about the things that you see especially the inappropriate photos, videos, foul language or even the reckless blocking and unblocking that takes place. You should also monitor your teen’s friends on facebook and help him choose them carefully. By the end of the day, you will be a proud parent as you see the progress your child is making in becoming a mature, responsible citizen online.