Thoughts on Facebook (and Social Networking)

Parents, are you on Facebook? If not, you should be. Or you should join whatever social networking site (Twitter, MySpace, etc.) your teen is on so that you can keep an eye on things.

Please understand, parents, I am not trying to advocate the idea of becoming a 24 hour spy of your teenager. But some savvy is required, if you are really going to keep tabs on what your teen is doing on the internet.

Why do I bring this up? Well, I was talking with a mom the other day who said that she only allowed her 17 year old daughter on Facebook because she knew her password. “That’s great!” I thought. Then I pondered it a bit more. I realized that having the password doesn’t assure mom of much at all. Why? Because the teen in question could form two Facebook identities – and keep one secret from her parents. If she’s not going to restrict her daughter from using Facebook, then joining is what this mom needs to do. That way she can “friend” all of her daughter’s friends, and search out any information she wants. Again, the goal is not to spy, but to keep an eye on things. Teens will post anything – and sometimes don’t think of the consequences.

Other internet tips:

Learn some online texting/chatting lingo, so you know what your teen is saying as you walk by the computer.

Visit popular sites like YouTube on a regular basis to see what’s being posted.

Don’t let them have a computer in their room where you can’t watch them.

Check your computer’s history (and the Recycle Bin on the desktop) regularly. If it’s recently been deleted or emptied, be suspicious!

In our parent workshop Home Connections packet, we have an internet contract. Think about writing one with your teen to set some limits for the net!