A Parent's Guide To Keeping Your Kids Safe On Facebook
Learn a few important tips that will help your protect your children from online predators.
The popularity of social media is ever increasing with over 2.2 billion monthly active users on Facebook as of 2020, and around 2.8 billion on platforms like Instagram, Whatsapp and Messenger. Owing to its growing fame, today more and more minors are using social media sites for networking. How do parents keep kids safe online in this context?
This becomes even more of a burning issue for parents in Sri Lanka after a recent report that revealed a 21-year-old man had been sexually abusing children online, using social media networks.
According to a study by Ofcom (The Office of Communications), at least 71% kids between the age group of 12 and 15 have active profiles on social media, mainly Facebook. Connecting with friends, networking, organising events, sharing pictures and learning to socialise are all good for your kids, no doubt. But we can’t deny the fact that Facebook also has a downside to it.
Younger kids are more prone to risks and dangers for several reasons. As parents, this is an added worry and it can be quite challenging to guard your children all the time. So, how can you protect them from social media dangers and keep kids safe? Using tools like Facebook privacy checkup and guiding your kids on protecting their privacy online can greatly help in avoiding unwanted dangers.
A Guide to Protecting Your Kids on Social Media through a Facebook Privacy Checkup Tool
While it may seem like a daunting task, protecting your kids from risks of the digital world is not all that difficult. Below is a perfect guide for you to ensure that your child’s privacy is protected.
1. Age Matters
The age limit for creating an account on Facebook is 13 years, so the best thing you can do is keep your kids away from Facebook if they are below 13. Additionally, you can either not let them surf the Internet or use Parental Control to block them from accessing certain sites. While many users use false date of birth for opening an account, it’s a violation of Facebook’s terms and conditions.
2. Use the New Facebook Privacy Checkup Tool
In addition to the existing set of privacy settings, Facebook’s revamped Privacy Checkup Tool provides an easier way to manage one’s privacy. Its four sections include:
3. Who can see what you share
With this, you can choose what information people can see when they see your profile, such as your contact details, email address and posts. It also lets you see your blocked contact list and add more people to the blocked list.
4. How to Keep Your Account Secure
This setting focuses on enhancing your account security by offering tips for a stronger password and raising a login alert on detection of any unusual activity.
5. How People Can Find You on Facebook
Check this setting carefully because it helps you choose how people can find you on Facebook, and filter unwanted requests from pouring in.
6. Your Data Settings on Facebook
This is an important setting because it lets you choose what minimum information you wish to share with other websites/apps that you have logged into using Facebook. Apps that you no longer use can be deleted by choosing Settings 🡪 Your Data Settings on Facebook 🡪 Apps and Websites 🡪 and clicking the ‘Remove’ option.
7. Avoid Request from Strangers
Ensure that your kids accept requests only from known people and explain to them the underlying risks of being friends with strangers. You can edit your privacy by clicking ‘Who Can send Friend Requests’ and setting it to ‘Friends of friends’ so that deceitful strangers can’t send requests. Also show your children how any fraudulent activity or inappropriate comments can be reported to Facebook.
8. Beware of Third-Party Applications
There are several third-party apps on Facebook that are used by both kids and adults. Whether it is a gaming app or something else, explain to your children that these third-party apps could be scams or malwares, and they cannot access private information without permission. Ensure that only minimal data is shared with the app (if required) or avoid using the app altogether. Also let the kids know that random links/posts appearing on their wall could be malicious and are best if blocked or ignored. It’s advisable to have an ad-blocker and up-to-date antivirus software to detect such threats.
9. Restrict the Profile from Public Search
Is it possible to stop your child’s Facebook profile from appearing on the search engines? Yes, it is. Just go to Privacy Settings and navigate to ‘Do you want Search Engines Outside of FB to Link to your Profile Section. Click on ‘Edit’ and un-check the ticked box next to it.
10. Teach Your Kids about Blocking
Blocking is one best feature on Facebook. Let your kids know that they can simply block anybody who disrespects their privacy or forces to build friendship. For blocking, go to Settings 🡪 Privacy 🡪 Block 🡪 ‘Block User or Block Messages’ section 🡪 Type the username of the person to be blocked 🡪 Select the Correct Profile 🡪 Click ‘Block’.
11. Restrict Tagging Options
Guide your teenager how he/she can review the posts and pictures that they’re being tagged in. To do so, go to Privacy, navigate to Timeline and follow the instructions. Once enabled, they will receive notifications on being tagged, after which they can opt whether the tagged post/picture should appear on their profile or not.
12. Create a Strong Password
Ensure that your kids know the importance of having a strong password and not sharing it with anyone else, not even with close friends. A strong password is one with special characters, numbers, and uppercase and lowercase letters. It’s advised to avoid using personal information and names of one’s favourite sports team, pets, etc.
13. Log Out When Not in Use
Logging out of Facebook or any other sites is very important. It lowers the risk of unwanted apps, malwares, phishing sites and hackers from accessing your child’s account.
14. Beware of Cyber Bullying
There have been many cases of cyber bullying in the past and minors are more prone to such risks. Let your kids know about illegal activities like harassment, bullying, forwarding of private information, threatening messages and so on. Make sure to talk to your kids about any such incidents and report it to Facebook immediately, while advising them to stay away from social media for some days. Additionally, keep a check on your children’s activity to discover any bullying happening from their end and address it immediately.
15. Use Online Activity Monitoring Tools
You can also use monitoring tools like McGruff Safeguard or SafetyWeb to track your kids’ online activities. Monitoring tools check different sites for your child’s registered accounts, notify you of any threatening activities and also inform you about any inappropriate information posted by your kids.
When it comes to how to keep kids safe online, following just a few simple privacy tips on Facebook will go a long way. Being friends with your children, allowing them to communicate with you freely and showing them that you too follow the above listed Facebook privacy tips and using the new Facebook Privacy Checkup Tool will work well in safeguarding them from potential risks.