Managing your child’s reputation on social media – Part 2
Advice for parents on Facebook and Your Child, from the real experts – our teenagers!
In February I wrote Managing Your Child’s Reputation Online. This got such great feedback it led to discussions with young people and then to a session with some older teenagers at Lancaster and Morecambe College Student Union this month with the Lancaster Guardian.
I wanted to talk to them about how they use social media, have they thought about what their employer might see on their profiles? and what tips they have for adults… We do have a habit of talking about young people, rather than too them, when in fact they mostly have a very smart take on things. These young people were no exception.
The group were fantastic, they fully entered into the debate, reinforcing some of my thinking and totally turning some of my fears on their head.
What became really clear is that these young people had had little or no parental guidance on social media, but having grown up in the digital age they figured it out between themselves without too many disasters! Some had indeed got into the occasional slanging match on Facebook and realised that it would be better to delete those things and some went away to check what else they should delete, but mostly they knew what they were doing.
However these young people were older teenagers with a bit more life experience than the average 13 year old and so I asked them for their tips for parents of children about to get an account. Between us we came up with the following top 12 tips….
*Facebook is for over 13s. Be brave enough to enforce that even if “everyone else in my class has Facebook” because small children are not at all world savvy. My daughter wasn’t allowed an account until age 13. I made sure that I understood it first and now we have really great discussions about how it’s used and abused.
*Be connected to your child on Facebook. *One young woman said that she wouldn’t hesitate to hack her child’s account if needs be. I would say that is pretty drastic, and if you can be Facebook friends that is way better, but if you are seriously worried and your child won’t talk to you, then better safe than sorry.
*But do not abuse that privilege by posting ridiculous adult stuff on their wall, or tagging them into things that embarrass them, or they WILL un-friend you. If you work this well you will have some fun together.
*Talk with your child about how they use Facebook. Talk to them about their experiences of on-line bullying and what is popular etc.
*Check what photos they are being tagged in.. Check google images to ensure there are no inappropriate images of your child in circulation.
*Guide them on issues of public behaviour… Even if you don’t understand social media, you do understand that ‘effing and blinding or bullying someone for an audience, never looks clever and can get them into big trouble.
A friend of mine who has a teenage girl, doesn’t use Facebook very much himself, but he ‘pops on now and then’ to see what she’s posting and reminds her that, as she’s about to start teacher training college, some of the more colourful language would be better deleted! That is great guidance.
*Check their privacy setting. Whilst it should be automatic privacy for under 18s, that does fail sometimes. You check privacy settings by clicking on the padlock icon on the blue bar next to Home. It should be set as Friends.
* Talk to them about who they accept as friends , you might be amazed at how many people accept friend requests from people without knowing who they are.
*Manage the hours that they are on social media. There is a growing problem of young people staying up half the night on social media. Not only is this leaving them very tired, but things can seem so much worse at 2 am when there is no-one else around.
*Understand what the fashion facebook famous is all about. If your child is getting caught up in this you really need to know.
*The Subscribe button is for over 18s only. Make sure you enforce that.. More on the subscribe button in a later blog.
*Learn about it for yourself so that you can have these conversations. The young people from L&M were clear that their parents were not only uneducated about social media, but we’re making the very mistakes that we were trying to warn the young people about ! – posting things that were inappropriate because they didn’t understand the reach and consequences.
Facebook and other sites really can be a lot of fun, but like all fun stuff, safety first!
I’d love to get your feedback on this and any other tips or experiences that you have to share, so please feel free to leave comments below.
If you would like me to come and talk to a group of parents about this and other social media safety issues, please get in touch.