Social media has become an integral part of our lives, especially the lives of teenagers. It has become imperative for parents to know, and understand, social media and social networking sites like Facebook. It’s crucial that parents not take a good vs. bad stance regarding interactions between teenagers. Instead, parents should understand that they are a major influence in their teens’ lives. Therefore, they must comprehend and educate their children about the effects, both positive and negative, of this new world. So if you are a parent, or any adult who works closely with pre-teens or teens, here is what you must know about Facebook Groups and Fan Pages:
Page Access - Because social networking websites are popular, there are many people checking in on Facebook. Your teen needs to know that everyone, from college admission counselors to potential employers, checks Facebook Groups and Pages for information about potential candidates. They also need to be aware that their status updates are not for their friends’ eyes only; a diary is personal, but the internet is not. Keep in mind that while your teen, and your pre-teen, too, is highly tech savvy and they understand that perception is everything, they probably don’t know who is accessing their profile. Though it won’t fix every potential problem, insist on bearing witness to your child’s privacy settings if they have a Facebook page.
Blocking Facebook – Many parents, and employers, try to block Facebook although studies show that this rarely helps as computer access is everywhere. Parents must realize that blocking a website, such as Facebook, makes the forbidden a lot more tempting. A better strategy is to set boundaries and regulations, and then monitor usage.
Clarify what’s appropriate, and what is not - This is one of the most important discussions that you must have with your kids. Make sure that they clearly understand what is appropriate on social media pages, and what is not. They need to understand that they can use their Facebook profile in a positive way. Don’t be afraid to repeat the discussion about what is appropriate periodically as many parents mistakenly assume their teen understood the rules, only to find out later with sad consequences that they really did not.
Personal branding – Your kids needs to understand the ramifications of what they put forth into cyberspace. Too often people who use Facebook assume that what they put on Facebook is only on Facebook. It’s important that your kids understand that cyber space is a real place. Show your kids how to build their reputation both offline and online. As a parent you can teach them the powerful skill of authentic personal branding.
Manage your Facebook profile – Many teens are afraid to un-tag themselves from material they find offensive. This is a whole new realm of peer pressure. It is important to let your teen know that it is not bad etiquette to un-tag yourself from notes, pictures or anything else they don’t agree with. They also need to understand that it is not bad to request someone to completely remove pictures for whatever reason. Empower them to take full responsibility for themselves, their reputations and media featuring them. Encourage them to be proactive and the end result will be a positive experience in the social media world.