Oh No! My Kid Wants to Get on Facebook… What Now?

I’m starting a new video series on my AskSileo YouTube channel to address common questions that parents have about their kid’s safety on Facebook and online privacy in general.

AskSileo Episode 1: Children’s Safety on Facebook and Social Networking (drawing from first-hand experience)

I get this question all of the time: Is my kid safe on Facebook? The answer to that questions depends on three basic factors:

  • The amount of time you have invested in helping your child set up their Facebook account. If you haven’t spent at least 90 minutes in the process, they are in no way safe. It takes at least 1.5 hours to wisely populate their profile, customize privacy and security settings and read through the Facebook Data Use Policy (notice that Facebook no longer refers to it as a privacy policy, because the reality is that you have almost no privacy on Facebook).
  • The amount of time you have spent training your child in an age appropriate way on the risks associated with sharing information on Facebook (stalking, Like-jacking, college admissions background checks, malware loading, identity theft, cyber bullying, social manipulation, digital blackmail, location tracking, surfing behavior analysis, purchase and sale of private information by marketing companies, etc.)
  • The degree to which you engage in Facebook yourself and use it as a tool to communicate and monitor your child’s online behavior. Social media is about conversation, and the most important person you can converse with is your child. In the same way that you would parent them in a restaurant if they used foul language, wore risque clothing or bullied another child, so you must be part of their virtual life. If you are not involved in your child’s online life on a daily basis, they have an identity about which you know nothing.
It’s one thing to talk about privacy as an expert on the topic and another to actually live through it with a child (without killing them). Which is why I have decided to create a video log while helping my 14-year-old daughter get safely onto Facebook. Enough theory, let’s talk practice.
I will admit right up front that I am learning as much as you are during this process, so your comments and feedback below are welcomed and will help educate other parents just trying to figure this thing out.
What are your questions? Let me know if the comments box below. Who knows, your question might appear next on AskSileo!
For more tips on privacy, identity and reputation control, subscribe to the AskSileo video series or to the Sileo Blog.