Five Rules for Facebook

So you’re handing over that device, opening up those email accounts and now, your 13 year-old would like a Facebook account. While it’s very exciting to finally get one, it can get a little confusing to a new user. This is by no means a definitive guide but here are our top five tips for a Facebook newbie:

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Age
The Facebook age restriction is there for a very good reason. Let’s abide by it, and make sure you’re helping your child open an account when they’re of the correct age. Read this for more information on why it’s a good idea to abide by the rules.

Location Sharing
This one’s a double-edged doohickey. It’s seen as “cool” to check in to places, but, for children, is it appropriate? Just as you’ve tried to instill the importance of not sharing personal information with others online, perhaps it’s a good idea to turn location sharing off. The rule about location sharing is a murky one though, as it’s sometimes appropriate but often it’s not. Try it out for size, but I think you’ll find it less nerve-inducing to just turn it off.

Sharing Personal Information
This one is pretty simple – don’t share your PIN code, password or other personal information with others. I always liken it to running up to random people in the street and yelling out my diary entry from 15 April, 1999 and seeing how I felt about having someone know my innermost, 19 year-old thoughts. It’s a big No-No for me, so the rule sticks for all personal information.

Privacy Settings
This is the one that gets super confusing, because it seems like Facebook changes its privacy settings options more often than you change the toilet roll in the family bathroom. Show your teen how to implement their privacy settings and keep them updated when changes occur.

Adding People
This is possibly the most important rule and it’s as simple as this – if your child would feel happy inviting the person who has requested to be their friend over to your house for dinner, then they can add them. If not, then that request should be declined. Only adding people you know and are comfortable with has a dual purpose – it keeps your Facebook account meaningful as you’re only sharing your online life with the people that matter, and you’re giving yourself a level of protection against strangers. Oh and, bonus tip, teach your child how to block people – it’s a useful tool to learn about!

What Facebook tips would you recommend to a new user?

Cath Jenkin

As a mom, Cath raises her daughter with a strong focus on technology, as she believes that digital literacy is as important as learning to read. With a long history of creating content for online and print publications, and in particular as a parenting columnist, Cath brings her curious mind... Read more

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