Facebook has become such an integrated part of our lives that it is almost innocuous. Parents can rightfully worry about a teen’s privacy via their social network. Luckily, there are some settings hidden away in the Facebook world that can help alleviate these concerns. Go through these settings with your teen and make certain they, too, understand them.
The Privacy Panel
To start, find Facebook’s “privacy” panel. From your logged in Facebook homepage, click on the dark blue arrow in the upper right hand corner. Click into “settings”. From the list at the left, click on “privacy”. From this panel, you can toggle the audience for various Facebook interactions. Setting the audience to “friends only” means that only people on your friends list may engage with that interaction. Setting it to “friends of friends” will mean that only users in your extended network may use it. For example if you set “who can send you friend requests?” to “friends of friends”, then only individuals who are already friends with your Facebook friends may “friend” you.
“Who Can See your Future Posts?”
One key privacy setting is “who can see your future posts?” This will allow you to toggle the default privacy setting of any future post. Note that this setting can also be changed manually with each post. While shifting this feature in your privacy panel will set your future default, this default can be overridden while posting. Make certain to discuss this setting with your teen, so that they understand what it means to post a “public” message vs. a “friends only” message. Open conversation is the best way to head off privacy concerns.
One great way to promote healthy social networking is to develop a “Social Media Policy” with your teen.
What is a Social Media Policy?
A Social Media Policy is a set of standards that one considers when posting content to a website. Social media is a very public forum. Even if your teen’s Facebook is set to “friends only”, content can be re-shared with ease via the internet. A Social Media Policy can help your teen think through their posts and head off issues of privacy and safety.
How do I Make a Social Media Policy?
A good place to begin is potential audience. Would your teen want certain information getting back to their coach, their principal, their boss, the kids they babysit? Have your teen consider Facebook a public forum; anything posted there should be something they would feel comfortable having printed as the headline of the school paper. Your Social Media Policy should include a question that takes this into consideration; “Would you want ____ to know the thing you are about to post?”
A second item to consider is state of mind. Is your teen posting in anger, hunger, fatigue? Are they feeling good enough to make a well-thought-out decision, or are they posting a spur-of-the-moment item? Your policy can ask a series of questions about their state of mind; the answer to all must be “yes” before they can post without violating the policy.
Sticking to It
Make sure you write down the social media policy you create together; keep it somewhere you can all reference easily. When you create the policy with your teen, also create rules together about what happens should the policy be violated. This will help make them feel responsible for their own behavior and, thus, more likely to monitor it.