Let’s face it. Aussie teens love Facebook! And my two eldest boys are no exception. A recent study by McAfee showed that not only are our teens spending approximately 3.5 hours a day online but 72% of them are accessing Facebook on a daily basis! Facebook seems to have become an official hobby!
So, as parents of teenagers (who can freely join Facebook from the age of 13) it is not really a question of ‘Should They Be Online?’ but rather ‘How To Keep Them Safe Online’. Protecting your privacy and managing your reputation should always be the highest priority when you are online. But, when you are 15 and completely consumed with friends, parties and new shoes; privacy and reputation are not really on your radar!
Here are a few of my favourite tips for helping my boys stay safe on Facebook.
- Only befriend people you really know – Cybercriminals can pretend to be teens with the aim of stealing your personal information. Block anyone who threatens or harasses you.
- Passwords – Create a strong password (use numbers, symbols and spaces) and change it regularly. Never share it!
- Set the security settings on your profile to ‘Only My Friends’ to help give you control over who has access to your info and pictures.
- Monitor pictures you have been tagged in. Under your profile picture, you can click on ‘photos of you’ to view. Ensure any inappropriate pictures are removed and untag yourself from pictures that you aren’t comfortable with. You might also be interested in checking out McAfee Social Protection – an app for Facebook that protects users’ photos from being shared without their permission.
- Never share personal information (such as your date of birth) on your Facebook page. This could help a cybercriminal create a false identity or provide clues to your passwords.
- Never ‘Check In’ or post information about an upcoming holiday. Why give people information about when your home will be empty!
- Think before you post! Your online life forms your digital reputation and could affect school leadership positions and job prospects down the track.
- Treat others the way you would like to be treated online. No exceptions!
If you are feeling a little unsure as to whether you should ‘stick your nose’ into your teen’s business, let me assure you that their online life is absolutely your business. As parents, we are responsible for our kids both offline and online.
So, strap them in the car (so they can’t escape) or buy them hot chips – whatever you need to do so you can talk with them about Facebook safety.
And remember, you are not being nosey – you are doing this because you love them!