As a parent social media brings new challenges that our own parents didn’t have to consider.
Allowing your child to use Facebook is a big decision, as is the age you allow them to join.
Facebook rules state you need to be 13 years old to have a Facebook page although many parents allow their children to break those rules.
I have a teenage daughter and, as I work in the medium every day, I was apprehensive about setting her free on the network, so I set some rules in place so she can join her friends online.
Facebook is a luxury in our house. It isn’t something we let our daughter go on every day and we have some pretty tight rules around accessing and using it. Think about putting restrictions in place, such as only letting your child go on Facebook after homework and chores have been completed.
An important thing for all parents with younger children who are on Facebook to consider is access to the child’s account. Having the password allows parents to check the account as and when they please, to make sure a child is abiding by the rules and check the content that he or she is posting and sharing.
The biggest, and sometimes most scary, part about Facebook is you cannot control what your child sees, what their friends comment on and like.
Therefore it is important to make sure that you know who her friends are and the pages she follows. It can be hard going, when she shares hundreds of Taylor Swift posts or images of the actor who is the flavour of the month.
With older children, parents may prefer a more hands-off approach, but ensure they make it clear they want to discuss any issues that come up.
Talking to your children about appropriate behaviour online is also very important. We had lengthy discussions about people’s privacy and, as many teenagers have smart phones, taking photos of friends and posting them without their permission is a big no-no in our house.
Parents should make it clear that children need to get permission from the subject, before they post photos of people online. This is a safeguard not only for your child, but also her friends.
Bullying is another big online issue. Sitting down and talking to your children about the different types of bullying is very important. Comments made on Facebook can be a skewed in so many different ways, so talking to your children about re-reading their comments before posting is key.
I am sure we have all made a comment on something and then re-read it only to realise it may easily be misconstrued.
Remember it is also okay for your child not to follow all family members on Facebook. My daughter doesn’t follow everyone, as I feel if she wants to chat to her family she needs to pick up the phone.
Mostly kids want to talk to each other and have fun. Try not to take a too hard-line approach. Social media is a big part of our lives, but as with everything else in life, if we apply reasonable rules, monitor our kids and trust them to be honest, then it will be an enjoyable experience all around.
Article for Hibiscus Matters