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Facebook Do's and Don'ts for Teens

Updated on September 11, 2016

Social Networks are for Networking and Fun

Let's face it. If you have a profile on one or more social networks, you understand the draw of being a part of interacting with friends from anywhere.

Your child wants to do the same thing. The pull is very strong. Especially with Facebook, who is currently the social network giant. Facebook wants to have as many people as they can on their site, tempting them with games and offers in order to generate revenue.

As a parent or guardian, once the decision is made to allow your child to access Facebook, some rules need to be in place. These rules protect your child and allow them to learn the rules of the road while interacting with others.

Establish Clear Rules and Boundaries

Here are some safe rules that you should think about for your child.

When setting up a profile, no provocative or indecent photos. Facebook does not allow them, and neither should you.

All friend requests have to be real people that you both know. No fake friends, no fan friends, no pretend friends or whatever else your child might name them. Real people only.

You will be a friend on your child's Facebook page.

Page needs to be set to private so that strangers cannot get a look at your child and their friends.

You will have your child's password and access the account when you want to, whether or not they are with you. A lot of parents and guardians disagree with this. I feel that if you are a parent or a guardian, you need to jealously guard and protect your child. That means making sure all of their online activity is safe and is not leading to behavior that is risky or dangerous.

Curfew will be in effect for Facebook. There is no need for your child to be on the internet in the wee hours of the night into the morning.

No mentions of drugs, sex, alcohol or hating other people. This is not a popularity contest, it is a place to touch base with friends.

Set limits of how much time your child is allowed to be on the computer, as well as how much they are allowed to be on Facebook.

A child's computer needs to be the in the family room. There is no need to give a child a free reign to the internet without supervision. There are predators out there, and they are not above pretending to be a child themselves. If they use Facebook on their phone, you will have the password to that as well.

No identifying information about where you live, what city, state or school that is attended should ever be on your child's profile.

Explain what will happen if rules are broken.

Follow Through

Do interact with your child on Facebook, but don't act like a child yourself.

Posts that you make of an adult nature should be screened from your child. Ask friends and family members to do the same.

Teach your child kindness and courtesy by respecting them online as you want them to respect others. That means don't post embarrassing stories or photos on their wall. Don't offer stories of what will happen if rules are broken. This is a social network. You want them to have fun and learn how to interact.

If you do want to post a photo of your child to your wall, ask if it is okay to tag the photo before you post it to their wall. Most of the time, they will say yes, but by being respectful, you are decreasing the chance of your child being disrespectful online and in real life.

If rules are broken, it is important that you follow through. If you warned them that they would lose access to Facebook, then make sure that you do remove their access. My sister does this by having the password to the email account linked to her children's Facebook. By doing this, the kids cannot change the password. She can. When they have lost Facebook rights, she will change the password until they are off restriction.

Don't Share Personal Information

Explain how important it is to not share passwords with others.

Change your child's' password at least once per month. Learn what makes good passwords and what makes poor passwords.

If personal information is shared, remove the post from Facebook.

Ask Questions About Things

Let your child know that you are looking at their Facebook. "I saw Chris said on your page that there was a party this weekend. Are you going?" or "Amanda seems to be posting a lot of things about sadness and loss. Is she okay?" are ways of letting them know that you are actively participating in their life. Keep your child informed that you are taking part in their lives. As children, even though they may complain, it is important to remind them that we are there for them.

Tell Family About Facebook's Newest Member

Send out an alert to family about your child's Facebook page. Ask them to be respectful on the page and mindful. Family members that cannot honor this should be removed from your child's Facebook.

Family members that cannot follow the rules should be removed from your child's Facebook.

Allow Access in Levels

When you first allow access to your teen, allow them to only have access to family and family friends. Keep it like that for an agreed upon time, say two weeks.

After that, discuss what friends you will allow access to. Look at those teen's pages and make a list of who can be added and who can't. My sister and her daughter made a list of ten friends that she was allowed to add. The list changed when they both went and looked at their pages. One of the friends that was on the approved list was removed when the Facebook page revealed references to drugs and alcohol. A different friend failed to make the cut with several revealing photos of herself, as well as a public listing of her school and home location.

After you have let your child add friends, don't comment on every single post to your child's wall. It is important to let them have their social time.

Facebook is a valuable tool. It teaches teens how to interact, and it does help with spelling, grammar and more. It allows the shy teen a chance to be with their friends and not become overwhelmed. It also lets you see who they are hanging out with. Facebook is a valuable tool for parents, guardians and the teens they love.

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How old do you think is the right age to allow a child access to Facebook and other social media?

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