As social media sites become more and more popular with teens, many experts (as well as parents) have begun to question the safety of their use by young people. Facebook, in particular, has come under renewed scrutiny and criticism due to the recent changes in their privacy policies. Until now, kids under 17 were unable to share updates and status postings with the general public, but Facebook has just announced that they will reverse their policy regarding “Followers” while also allowing underage users to share pictures and other info with, well, anyone who would like to view it.
This change in policy has shocked and angered many who fear that an increase in accessibility to personal info and photos by strangers, as well as friends, creates a heightened risk children who use Facebook. Let’s face it - even many adults find themselves wishing they hadn’t posted certain info and images on this enormously popular site, so what’s to stop children from posting content that could lead to embarrassment, harassment or even worse? A significant amount of parents and experts on child behavior are understandably concerned with the changes that Facebook has rather inexplicably made.
Does Your Child Understand Privacy Settings?
Privacy settings on Facebook are confusing enough for most adults and there is little doubt that some children - even if they understand their privacy settings - will not fully be able to grasp the full implications of making certain information and images available to the public. There is already an enormous amount of publicly available (but decidedly inappropriate) material that has ended up in the hands of pedophiles and sexual predators - and one has to wonder why Facebook has decided to make children’s personal information even easier to share and, in turn, to access.
What Should a Parent Do?
So how should parents respond to these potential threats to their child’s safety? It would seem a bit draconian to forbid a child from using Facebook and other social media platforms, but parents should be aware of how their children use them and what kinds of information they are sharing, and with whom.
It’s important to discuss privacy settings and the risks involved in using social media platforms with your children. Some parents have decided to take an active role in monitoring their children’s online activities through the use of mobile spy software which can be installed on a smartphone or tablet. With spy phone software, it’s possible to monitor all of a child’s online activity, including what they share and who they are sharing it with.
This may be the most effective way to make sure your child is not engaging in potentially unsafe online activities.