Part 3: Facebook/MySpace
Facebook and MySpace
In today's world, Facebook and MySpace are two of the most popular websites on the internet, especially for the youth of today. For those who don't know, they're both websites where your kids can create a profile, decorate it, link to their friends, post messages to eachother, and all sorts of things like that.
Age Group: 12 and under
Most children aren't interested in Facebook and MySpace yet. Also, it's a violation of the Terms of Service for them to register if they're not yet 13 to either service.
Age Group: 13-16
Facebook can be an extremely useful tool for planning parties, talking with friends, and just plain having fun. However, it can also be a haven for giving away too much personal information.
Facebook used to be safe from online predators. You either had to have a ".edu" email, which only college students generally had, or be confirmed by fellow high school students at a high school, which was also very hard to do. Too much trouble to get on. But now, Facebook is open to just about anyone whose 13 or older.
You could simply ban your child outright from ever using them, but that can be very detrimental to their social life. Facebook and MySpace are more and more becoming a part of high school students social lives. Since it's infeasible to ban them outright, Facebook and MySpace can become a much safer place if you follow some simple tips:
-If your child really wants to join a network within Facebook, they should only join their high school network. Don't let them join their city network or anything public like that. Also, edit their privacy settings under their "profile" and choose to only let friends only view the profile. You should probably also change everything else to that setting (such as pictures, videos, and status updates). This will prevent anyone outside of their personal friend list or high school see any information about them.
-You need to have access to their facebook account when they're starting out. You should know their password and their username. Will they whine about privacy? Undoubtedly, but it doesn't matter. Tell them that you're not going to hound them daily, just checking every now and then to make sure the privacy settings are in order and that noone inappropriate has posted anything.
If your child is older (15-17 area) and they've been on Facebook for a while without incident, you might want to lax controls a little bit if they've shown proper judgement. Putting too strict restrictions on your child is just going to cause them to rebel. You should also tell them to make sure that they don't have any pictures of them or their friends drinking on Facebook or MySpace.
One of the latest things that schools and employers are doing is searching employee/student Facebook and MySpace accounts. If they see that they've been drinking underage or any other illegal activity from pictures, they will get in trouble quickly.