Whether you consider social media to be a good or bad place for teens to be generally, we can all agree that the more information we make publicly available, the more vulnerable we leave ourselves. That’s why it’s crucial to make sure your kids understand how to set their privacy settings on Facebook and other social media networks.
Once something’s public, it can potentially be shared by friends and followers too, so we’re not the only ones with a say in our privacy levels. We’re not even talking about ID theft, online abuse or other serious privacy problems here. Sometimes we post something personal because we want it to be seen by people who are close to us, but would be uncomfortable with the idea of those same photos, videos, words, etc. being seen by others.
It can be hard to keep track of the permissions we’ve set, especially if we have accounts on lots of different social media networks. Our children are even more vulnerable in this area. Many are the parents who’ve found themselves comforting tweens and teens who posted too freely and wound up being mocked, verbally abused or otherwise upset by the response to their activity. At the same time, social media is has become an integral element of teenage social life.
Privacy settings on Facebook
There are several elements of Facebook’s privacy settings which it’s worth going over with your kids. You can use them to make your Facebook account safer. Find them under the Privacy section in Account Settings.
- Who can see your posts? You can limit your audience just to your friends or even make some posts visible to yourself only. You can also set visibility filters to individual posts.
- Who can see your friends list? We’d recommend you set the “Only me” or “Friends” filter to limit the number of people who can get extra information about you by looking at your connections list.
- Who can send you a friend request? It’s wise to limit this group to people you have common friends with to protect your teen/child from predatory strangers.
- Who can see your email address/telephone number? We strongly recommend you not to make this information public at all.
- Do you want search engines outside Facebook to link to your profile? To avoid having your child’s profile page appear in Google search results, be sure to set this to “No”.
Additional safety tips
- Watch what you post. Sometimes kids and teens bring trouble on themselves by posting texts and photos they’d have been better off not posting. Teach your kids to recognise what is and isn’t appropriate for posting on Facebook.
- Check out the privacy settings in other social media apps you use because they can potentially also affect what turns up in your Facebook feed (and of course it’s worth checking what their settings allow for their own sake).
- Do not share additional personal info like your birth date, home address or pictures of the driver’s license you just received.
- Be especially watchful when linking together different apps like Facebook and Instagram/Twitter.
- Try using a parental control app to protect your child, especially if you think that they’re not fully capable of managing the privacy settings of for their device or social media account themselves.
Please, share with us your ideas of how we can make social media a better place for our children.