If you want to keep your child’s privacy safe on Facebook, talk to them about the following things:
Their personal information:
On Facebook you can fill out a profile that includes some personal information. Some of this personal information includes things like how people can contact you, your birthday, where you got your education, etc. All of these little details can put you at risk for things like identity theft and other security concerns. Be careful what you share. Advise your children to be vague, to put some misleading information in, etc. so that should someone try to use their profile information for ill, it will be worthless.
The security settings:
On Facebook you have control over your information and who sees it. So talk to your child about using these security settings, and why it is important that they not only learn how to control who sees their information, but use the controls over their settings as well. On Facebook only your friends and people in your networks can see your profile, and you do not have to post anything you do not want someone to see.
Even though you only access stuff from people you know, and only your network and friends can access your stuff, does not mean you are totally safe. You are still going to want to check for things like viruses, and problems with files you look at, and videos you play. Talk to your child about being selective.
The advantages of privacy controls offered by Facebook:
Facebook offers better privacy controls than any other social networking company, and this is something you should know as a parent. Facebook and MySpace are not the same. Facebook offers specific privacy settings for all the different things you can do on your profile and on the networks, from posting photos, to notes, and more. If you want to keep your child’s privacy safe on Facebook, talk to them about their option to block individuals they don’t want knowing they exist on Facebook. Also, it would be wise to advise them to create a Limited Profile to hide certain parts of the profile from specific friends, especially people they do not know that well.
What networks they join:
Facebook isn’t just one big site like some of the other social networking places; it’s made up of a bunch of small networks based around things like where you live, where you go to school, your company, etc. Your child is going to keep their privacy a lot safer if they do not join networks that are unsafe. For example, you can join school networks, which is a lot safer then a city network. The reason why is that if you want to see the profiles of your classmates or coworkers on the site, be sure to use your school or work email to register. Some networks, like college networks require you to use a school email address to register. The safety of Facebook is that you can search for anyone on Facebook, but you can only see profiles of your friends and people in your networks. So, the fewer networks they join, the safer their privacy is going to be.
What they put on their profiles:
Their profile is going to show the info they put on it as well as recent activity. Your child can post videos, blog info, etc. plus their profile information which is personal information about themselves. So, if you want to keep your child’s privacy safe when they are on Facebook, make sure that the things they post, say, etc. on their profile, wall, blogs, etc. are not too personal.
What photos and videos they share and the content in them:
Facebook lets you upload as many photo albums as you want, so to protect your child’s privacy, make sure that they only upload generic photos, nothing that would be too telling of where they are, work, etc. This way it is harder for an Internet predator to use backgrounds in photos to take advantage of them.
What information about their location and plans they publish in notes, blogs etc.:
A lot of times you are going to see that your child informs their friends of parties they will be at, events, etc. This is usually not a good idea if you are trying to protect your privacy. This allows people who do not really know you to know where you are, and what you look like (since you have a picture up). So, while it is okay to share your thoughts by writing notes or importing your external blog, don’t get too specific about where you will be or when, at least not on a public forum like your wall.