Facebook and children
FOCUS ON THE FAMILY with Jim Daly and Dr. Juli Slattery
Q: How can parents teach their children how to behave on Facebook without falling into the trap of doing what everyone else is doing? Are there rules and boundaries we should give our kids when working on social media sites?
Juli: Most people don’t know that Facebook has established 13 as the required age for an account. So, right out of the gate, remember that Facebook is not for children. It’s designed for teens and adults. This is a good opportunity to teach your children integrity by making them wait until they’re legitimately old enough to be on Facebook.
When your kids reach the teen years, if you choose to allow them to be part of Facebook, here are a few principles to keep in mind:
Make it very clear that you will be their first friend on Facebook and will monitor their activity. For young teens, you can set up the account so that all messages, wall posts and friend requests go through your email account. This is a good form of accountability and a reminder that what happens on Facebook is not private.
Second, you should know all of their Facebook friends and limit the personal information they share. Help them set up their privacy settings and make sure that not just anyone can see their profile. It’s probably best not to have cell phone or address information listed.
You also need to have a conversation with your teen about how Facebook can be used for both positive and negative purposes. Just as you would never tolerate bullying or inappropriate language in person, those standards also apply online.
Finally, establish time limits. Unchecked, many teens (and adults) will spend hours and hours on Facebook every day, neglecting responsibilities and important aspects of teen development, like face-to-face communication. Facebook is a privilege, not a right. Remind your teen that you may take the privilege of Facebook away if they don’t learn to use it responsibly.
Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family, host of the Focus on the Family radio program, and a husband and father of two.
Dr. Juli Slattery is a licensed psychologist, co-host of Focus on the Family, author of several books, and a wife and mother of three.
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