Why do children lie to get a Facebook page? The most common reason is because all of their friends have an account and they don’t want to be left out. Peer pressure is overwhelming and it often causes children to act differently than they normally would. Even if you set some ground rules with your children about when they can have a Facebook account, some children may go behind your back and lie about their age in order to get an account. Since Facebook and other social networking sites rely on the information you give them, there is no real way to test who is signing up for an account so this means an eleven year-old can easily sign up for a Facebook account.
Instead of just saying “no” to your child when they decide to open a Facebook account, listen to what they have to say. Children will have a number of convincing arguments to tell you in order to sway you to think like they do about creating a Facebook account. Let them speak their opinion and then come up with a fair compromise.
First, discuss the potential dangers of social networking sites. Of course there is the standard ‘stranger danger’ worry that every parent has when their child is online. Then there is the worry about the advertisements and clicking on inappropriate sites and inputting your credit card information. Finally there is the worry about their exposure to inappropriate language and conversations on the site. Talk to them about all the dangers you can think of that come along with a social networking site and discuss your conditions if they have an account. One way to help protect your child from dangers is to use a family email account and a password that you both know. This way you can log into their account if you are worried about their behavior and it’s a great way to keep them on their toes so they don’t violate your agreement.
Second, talk to them about the friends that they add to their account. While they may want to get a large friend following, adding people you don’t know to your account is always a risk. Make sure they only add people that they know and do not allow your child to carry on conversations with strangers online. Tell them that the only adult friends they can have on their page include close relatives and no one else. Adding teachers, pastors, and other adults is definitely not acceptable for children.
Third, discuss the appropriate types of pictures they can upload to their Facebook page. These pictures are going to be viewed by anyone with a Facebook account so it is important to make sure they represent your child in a good manner. Make sure the pictures do not include any identifiable features like the exterior of your home, this is what online thieves are looking for so they can scope your home for valuables.
Fourth, let them know that if they are using inappropriate language or violating your conditions in any way that you will delete their account. Inappropriate conversations also violate the web site, but with millions of people on the site it is impossible for the site moderators to track every single account and place restrictions on users that upload bad pictures and use foul language.
Fifth, ask your child to do random Facebook reviews with you. This basically means that you will get together with your child and he/she will sign into the account and show you what they have been up to on the site. It’s a great way to let them know that you do trust them but you are still the parent.