9 Things to Tell Your 9 Year Old About Facebook

» Posted by on Apr 12, 2011 in Facebook, Kids | 0 comments

Posted by Harry


Guess what the dinner topic was at our house last night?  It started with “but all of my friends have Facebook pages!” and went on from there.  And while this conversation may be easier than having to explain about sex, many parents (including us) struggle with when and in what sequence you should allow your child’s use of social media.  Here are nine things to think about before letting them set up a Facebook page.

1.You are off the hook for a while, Facebook licensing requires that users be at least 13 years old.  You get to say no, and it’s not your fault!

2.Educate your child on what being on-line means; real names, locations, email addresses, get togethers and in-person meetings are out.  Explain how contact information could be culled from a Facebook page.  While Facebook is working continually on closing security gaps, it is a good idea to Google “Facebook privacy” for many articles that explain how a users Facebook information could be culled.  (For example, filling out a quiz on Facebook apparently opens all of your profile information to the quiz writer.)

3.Tell them the bad stuff up front.  We may be Draconian, but we had our child read some horror stories in the paper.  Fortunately, dramatic events are rare, but cyber-bullying is not.  Both need to be fully explained.  We felt it was better for our child to understand the potential for danger up front than to learn about cyber bullying the hard way.  www.stopcyberbullying.org has a lot of material available.

4.Emphasize that most people are good.  But in the same way that you would not think about dropping your child off in Grand Central Station by themselves, they may or may not be ready for the level of interaction  with a vast community that Facebook provides.

5.Consider a baby step.  Your child might enjoy   child oriented site that does not allow unstructured chat, but does allow for conversations with identified and approved friends. http://www.kidsites.com/ offers a comprehensive list of fun sites that are safe for children.  Your child’s school will probably have more information to offer – contact the guidance department.

6.Set expectations.  If not now, when if ever will be the right time?  When you decide, spend some time to learn about and go over social media etiquette, do’s and don’ts, and what to do if you run into something that you do not understand or are exposed to bad behavior.  This article by Marjie Braun Knudsen has a great “WISDOM” acronym for helping kids remember social media safety and etiquette tips. http://blog.oregonlive.com/themombeat/2009/12/6_social_media_rules_wisdom_fo.html

7.Keep the password and the settings to yourself for a while before you let your kids off on their own.

8.Keep your computer in a central location where everyone in the family can see it as they walk by.

9.If you have a partner, take the time to communicate your family strategy before you turn it loose on your kids.  Communication takes time and effort, but it is better than trying to undo something after the genie is out of the bottle.

Good luck to all of us.  (I wonder when I will have to have that sex talk?  Honey, I think that I am going to let you take the lead on that one.)

[added by Miriam: you are on your own, babe.:)]

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