Facebook, a popular social networking site which allows people to connect, is also a popular platform for launching online threats and cyberbullying.

Since its launch in 2004, Facebook has helped connect billions of people all over the world. It was designed to allow people to share, connect, and open up the world to everyone. In fact, around 1.18 billion users are active on Facebook every day. Since Facebook allowed people to connect, share and discover the world, it is still the most popular social media site/mobile app today.

However, Facebook cannot guarantee its user’s safety. It is often used as a platform for online threats and cyberbullying. Around seventeen percent (17%) of teens are contacted online by strangers, which made them feel uncomfortable. Most children would respond to friend requests because it is like earning a “badge of honor”. The more friends they have on their “Friends List”; the more popular they become.

Parenting kids today is challenging and parental guidance can make a big difference. Here are what parents need to know about Facebook.

Why children love Facebook?

Kids and teens use Facebook for a variety of reasons. It is primarily used to socialize or hang out with friends. Some teens use it to express themselves or explore their identities. When they are sad, Facebook is used to gain emotional support from friends. It is also a good platform for exploring interests for both academic and future professional purposes. Most young people also use Facebook to find causes which are meaningful to them. It is a good place for informal learning and developing technical skills for the future.

What are the risks when using Facebook?

Facebook also has its own set of risks. Young people tend to engage in different risky behaviors online. Some of these would include sending sexually explicit private messages, joining “Hate” pages, and becoming indiscriminate with their status messages. These types of online behaviors may affect their future college or professional careers. Some universities and companies check their candidate’s social media footprints. Posting tasteless comments or starting flame war threads could damage a teen’s online reputation permanently. A teen’s friend today could become his or her future co-worker or boss.

How should parents talk to their children about Facebook?

Since our children always use Facebook, here is a parent’s guide to Facebook:

  1. When restricting Facebook use at home, follow it. Your children will likely follow your rules if you follow it too.
  2. If something negative happens (i.e. an indiscriminate post or cyberbullying), be calm and talk to your child or teen. Listen to what they have to say and analyze the situation. Avoid over-reacting when talking to your children. If you are calm and thoughtful during your conversation, they will always approach you when bad things happen online.
  3. Remind your teen that Facebook isn’t an “add-on” to their real life. Teach them to put Facebook in the background when doing homework, schoolwork, or other offline activities. It will also teach them how to focus on their studies.
  4. Let them understand that every action they do online could either hurt others or affect their real lives. Remind them to be always “light, bright, and polite” when engaging their peers on Facebook.
  5. Facebook understands the challenges of raising kids today. They launched the Parents Portal to help parents keep their children safe online.
  6. Subscribing to cyber security services is also recommended. MomSecure’s cyber security agents can help you filter Facebook on your child or teen’s device. This is to protect them against other online threats.

Children need our help as they navigate through their online and offline lives. It is our responsibility to encourage them to use Facebook in a positive way.

Related article: A Parent’s Guide to Social Media