Facebook is the biggest social networking service in the world today, with approximately 750 million registered users—a large percentage of which are teens. Or even younger. Surveys show that 60% of children between the ages of 7 and 14 are already using the Internet. How can we protect them from internet risks?
Social networking sites, including Facebook, are sometimes used by cybercriminals to gain access to personal information and profit from these data. It’s the virtual equivalent of letting a stranger into your living room.
Aside from this, kids can can stumble onto pornography, violent material, scams. They can accidentally enable malicious software disguised as anti-virus alerts.
There have been incidences of children who were bullied through social networking services especially Facebook. And, of course, the sexual predators who use ‘grooming’ tactics to gain attention and trust: praising targets’ achievements, giving consoling words or advice, until kids are eager to meet up with their newfound ‘friend.’
What parents can do
According to Facebook rules, only those 13 and above can open an account. But even older kids need supervision.
1. Install security and antivirus applications. Look for those that are constantly updated for the latest malware signatures.
2. Limit your personal data. Use nicknames or codenames for Facebook account, and never give the full birth date or school.
3. Tweak privacy settings. Make sure your child’s posts and photo albums can only be seen by a select group.
4. Regularly check your child’s Friends list.
5. Have the ‘internet talk.’ Tackle privacy and security, who they can ‘friend’ and the kind of photos they can post. Also talk about how they need to ‘think before they post’ and consider how people can react to their replies. You may also want to discuss cyberbullying in this context: never be mean or post information that could hurt someone’s reputation, and what to do if someone bullies them (take a screenshot and report it to an adult). Read our article on what parents can do about cyberbullying
Photo from ok.gov