Guide to Helping Your Child Set Up a Facebook Account
So your kids are begging to get a Facebook account and you've finally given in and said "okay." That's good because Facebook is a great way to communicate with friends and stay in touch with people you talk to. However, as a parent, you likely have concerns about Facebook and the number of privacy issues that are associated with it. Those concerns are perfectly valid, and they are good to have because it shows you take an active role in the things your child does on and offline. This article is being written to walk you through Facebook's privacy settings to help you help your child have a safe and secure experience on Facebook.
Talking About Facebook
If you agree to let your child have a Facebook account, how you monitor that account depends a lot on the maturity of your child as well as his or her age. Obviously a 13 year old is going to need more online supervision than a 16 year old. When you agree to let your child onto Facebook, I urge you to assist them with setting up the account. This guide is written for you, the parent, to show you the ways to help your child with just that.
When you first go to Facebook to help your child sign up, you may notice that it asks for a few more details than you've seen on other sites or that you're comfortable providing.
In order to use Facebook, you're going to have to enter your child's name: first and last. This will help friends find him or her. If you're uncomfortable with this (although almost everyone does provide their name), I have seen other name edits such as using a middle name or a nickname as a last name to help protect the user's identity. The birth date is required (and it should be correct because Facebook friends write on each other's walls when a birthday occurs), but you can hide it from public view later.
Enter an email address and create a strong password. Here's some tips on creating strong passwords.
You will need to check the email account and click a verification link. Once the account is complete, you can begin establishing a profile with your child. Before you enter any private information, however, let's secure the account from outsiders.
Privacy Settings - Use Them!
On any given day, you can log into Facebook and see hundreds of accounts that are completely public, sharing tons of private information. You don't want that for your child. The privacy settings on Facebook are fairly simple to use, once you learn the basics. I have already written a guide called "How to Really Secure Facebook," which you can read here. I'm not going to re-discuss everything that I mentioned there, so be sure to read and follow it.
Things You Shouldn't Share
Facebook is all about sharing. However, there are some things that, in the interest of privacy, you should never allow your child to share without a complex set of privacy settings to selectively control who sees it.
- You full birth date. A month and day are mostly okay, but having a year in there too is going to be a cause for concern. Read about how to hide all or part of your birth date here.
- Your address or any part of it. As close as you should maybe come is a "Current City."
- You home phone number (people can do a reverse lookup and find the address)
- Your cell number (unless you selectively choose to share it with close friends only)
- Any other private data
Using Facebook Wisely
Once your child has set up an account, continue to talk to him or her about safe use. If he or she is young, I would recommend signing up for an account of your own and becoming friends with him or her. Tell your child never to respond to messages from strangers or to agree to meet anyone anywhere. Hopefully with this information, more parents can teach their children about important online safety habits. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Other Facebook Tutorials
Here are some other guides to using Facebook that you may find helpful:
- How to Stop Certain Friends from Writing on Your Facebook Wall
- All the Rules of Facebook Etiquette
- How to Remove Facebook Applications and Save Your Privacy
- How to Stop Certain Friends From Commenting on Your Facebook Posts
- How to Hide Pages You're a Fan of on Facebook
- How to Appear Offline to Some Friends But Not Others on Facebook
- How to Find Classmates on Facebook
- How to Edit Photo Album Privacy on Facebook
- How to Change Your Facebook Profile Picture
- How to Hide Your Facebook Status Updates from Certain Friends
- How to Uninstall Facebook Apps
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