A friend recently asked me advice around his daughter’s first foray into using Facebook.
He was unsure of whether it was good idea but his daughter was keen. My response follows. What else would you add?
- My first question for him was, “How old is she? If she is under 13 then the conversation stops as it is against the law for under 13s to be on Facebook. We know there are heaps who do condone their children using Facebook when they are underage but parents can take the moral high ground on that one!!!
- In saying that I would let her know that it is OK not to fill out every part of your profile. It’s OK not to make the year of your birth public. So often people ask for your birthday as a form of identification. I lie about my age on Facebook!
- I would start with small steps- the parent joins Facebook and so does the daughter- and be each other’s friends- learn together.
- Tell her that she can only have friends she actually knows- relatives, school friends etc.
- Share with her that if she turns friends down they don’t know- she just doesn’t turn up in their timeline. You don’t have to feel shy about ignoring people who you don’t want to share your life with.
- Show her that you can block people if they are mean so they can’t contact you again. You can report people as well but Facebook is not in the habit of caring too much about what individuals post!!!!!
- Talk to her about the sorts of things that she puts out there for others to see- her digital footprint.
- Help her understand that things that she puts on Facebook other people can copy and keep forever- would she want her grandmother (or father) to see that? Or would she be happy with that being shown to someone on her 21st birthday!
- Talk about privacy- do you want everyone to know where you live, how to contact you, phone numbers etc. Be wary of what you share even if it is not ‘bad’ err on the side of being private…. things like not saying you are going on holiday for a week and would someone like to come and water the pot plants cos the house would be empty!!! Save that till you come home and tell everyone what a marvellous time you had then!!
- In the way of settings- lock it down so that only friends can see what you posted and make a bit of a habit- once a month or so, of re-checking that privacy setting as Facebook have a habit of changing things.
- Be careful with what you ‘like’ – the things that you ‘like’ show up for your friends to see and if you ‘like’ a business they will turn up like adverts in your time line.
- Let her know that if she shares something bad that happens on Facebook with you then you won’t stop her from using Facebook altogether cos of one bad thing- if you do that she won’t tell you next time. Talk about what she can do- unfriend the uncomfortable person- maybe go as far as confronting the troubling person.
- Practice being strong and safe with your password- don’t share it around and make sure you log out at the end of a session.
My three pillars of digital citizenship-
- Look after yourself
- Look after others
- Look after property
If she knows those three things in non digital life she will do OK on Facebook as well. You have thirteen years of good parenting under your belt. Don’t stop now.
I would take a good read of the common sense advice from Common Sense Media here. And this Facebook video is a bit of fun,
Here are my Facebook bookmarks for a bit more in depth reading.
What other advice would you offer the father?