The minimum age requirement for joining Facebook is 13, but many kids lie about their age and set up a Facebook Timeline at even younger ages. Some parents even allow this social media deception! Whether your kid is of-age or not when he pops the Facebook question, there are some things you’ll need to know before you decide whether to say yes.
Privacy Settings Are Complex
Facebook has been hit with complaint after complaint about their complex privacy settings that seem to be constantly changing. If you do let your child join the social media site, sit down with him and figure out how to configure the account so that his posts are seen by his friends only, not the entire online community.
It’s Easy to Create More than One Account
Some parents think it’s safe to let their kids join Facebook as long as they “friend” them so that they can see what they post and who they’re communicating with on the platform. Kids are on to this strategy, though. If you’ve friended them, then they know that you’re checking up on them and will likely be on their best behavior—at least on the account you know about. It’s those other accounts you need to be worried about. The only foolproof method of monitoring all of your kid’s social media accounts is by using a smart parental control app (like Qustodio!)
It’s the Gateway Drug of Social Media
If you’re like most parents, you’re aware of the popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but beyond that, you’re in the dark. The same is not true for your kids. They’re likely very aware of the latest and greatest in social media, and they’re going to want to be where their friends are. If you’re considering letting your child join Facebook, know that you may be opening the door to riskier platforms like Instagram and ask.fm that could put your child at risk for cyberbullying or online predators.
Facebook is a social media tool that can be used in so many ways, both good and bad. It may be impossible to keep your kid off of this or any other social media site forever, but before you let him take the virtual leap, it’s best to be informed of the potential risks to his privacy and safety.