Social networking has become hugely popular in recent years and the chances are your kids will be clamouring to be allowed to get onto Facebook as soon as possible. While it can be a nice way to keep in touch with friends and family, it does have a darker side, and problems can occur with Cyber Bullying or identity theft if profiles are left open for all to see and access. As parents, you can help protect your kids’ privacy on Facebook by learning how to make full use of the privacy settings.
Facebook allows registered users from the age of 13 years upwards, and many teens are eager to get on board and signed up as soon as they’re able to (and even before, if they manage to sneak on). Facebook can be a fun way to keep in touch with friends and see what everyone is up to, but as the profile settings encourage people to reveal lots of personal information, such as their date of birth, where they live, details of siblings or relatives, where they go to school and who their friends are, as well as share pictures of themselves and what they’ve been doing, there are some serious privacy concerns.
Why the Basic Facebook Settings Don’t Offer Privacy
With the basic settings on Facebook, your kids profile is not that well protected, even if it seems that way. Although some settings may only allow their friends to see what they’ve posted on their wall, photo settings often leave loopholes, so that anyone can get into their profile via their photos being posted on friends walls. There are also similar loopholes involved if your child joins a group or network, uses certain applications or plays some of the online games on Facebook.
In theory, most teens shouldn’t be clawing around trying to find ways of accessing other people’s profiles, but you never know quite who everyone is online or if there are strangers skulking around trying to find information out. Although it can initially seem like a bit of a fiddle, there are practical ways in which you can help your child learn about the importance of privacy on Facebook and help secure their settings.
How to Set up Facebook Privacy Settings
Once an account has been set up on Facebook, head to the ‘account’ tab on the main menu and look for the option ‘privacy settings.’ This brings you to a page with five options where you can control who can see your profile and post on your wall, who can see all your contact information, what applications and websites can see your information, who can gain your details in a search on Facebook or other search engines, and an option to block anyone specifically that you don’t want to get access to your profile page.
Within each of these options, you can carefully set up strict privacy settings that will tighten up your child’s profile. Under ‘profile information’, for example, there are a whole list of different elements of your child’s profile that can be enhanced with privacy protection. They can be set to be seen by everyone, friends of friends, only friends or you can customise them further.
If you simply want to ensure that only friends can see your kids profile, then this is a good option to choose. But if there are certain people on their friends list who they don’t know very well, then choosing to customise the privacy settings is very worthwhile. Don’t panic, as it’s not a hard task! You simply select the people you don’t want to see certain elements and create a list that you name. You can click on this list to say, for example, that ‘only friends, except limited profile’ can access personal information about your teen.
The same settings can then be applied to their contact information, as well as the applications or games they’re playing. Once the limited access list is set up, it’s saved and can easily be updated with other people at a later date if need be. In the meantime, you can rest assured that your kids’ profile is secure and that they’re using Facebook in as safe a way as possible.