Social media, as best epitomized by Facebook, has allowed millions of people an opportunity to share information about their lives.
The ability to make new friends and share communication with established relationships across the globe has never been easier.
However, Facebook and other online social media services present an assortment of issues, many of which are especially important for parents.
Chuck Smith, professor emeritus at Kansas State University, says increased usage of Facebook by children has sparked questions of how to prevent cyberbullying and protect their personal privacy.
Simultaneously, some parents have been forced to consider how much information they should share about their children on Facebook.
But despite the risks, Smith says using Facebook is worthwhile for children if parents remain aware.
“Facebook is a tool that could be used for good or bad,” Smith said. “It’s up to parents to help their children understand how to use it well and be vigilant about misuse.”
Smith believes online bullying is a primary concern for young Facebook users. To combat this risk, parents must retain essential control of a child’s Facebook account, he said.
This allows parents to read all posts and ensure the highest levels of security settings are in place.
Paying attention to appropriate security settings is a variety of contexts is essential to protect young Facebook users from online predators, says Smith.
Some of the recommendations by Smith will probably draw resistance from teens. For example, Smith advises parents of children under 16 years old to have the family use the computer in a common area.
“The impact on relationships could be with children regarding parents as too intrusive in their personal lives,” Smith said. “Though as long as the children are living in the home, parents have every right to be vigilant.
“For parents, vigilance changes with the child’s age, but you still have to be responsible.”
Although parents need to be diligent to protect their children, they should also allow a reasonable amount of freedom for children to make their own mistakes, Smith said.
Failure to allow a meaningful amount of freedom could be detrimental to the parental-child relationship.
“The younger generation is very much an online generation,” Smith said.
“We have to be realistic and teach them about the danger and responsibility of posting online and considering what they might say and how they might react. Parents who are overly restrictive might lose their opportunity.”
Even parents must be careful in their use of Facebook and other online venues — especially when it concerns their children.
Smith advises parents to consider their own security settings before sharing certain information about their children. The same principle applies for any sort of related information, including when the family will be on vacation.
“You have to be aware of who you have given permission to view the page,” Smith said.
Source: Kansas State University