My kids range in age from 20, 13 down to 11 years old. I have watched the influence of cell phones with text and photo sharing, as well as sites like MySpace, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube impact kids outside of the watchful eyes of their parents. Today’s kids are keeping up with technology and leaving their parents in the dust. Sometimes with a terribly negative impact on today’s kids.
Many kids are running rampant into the adult-like lives in the virtual world often unchecked and unmonitored. As I see young people change before my very eyes in their online lives I am always wondering, “Where are their parents!?”
Many times their parents think they are monitoring their kid’s activity online, but they don’t know all the loopholes that allow kids to block and sensor what their parents see online. Since I have been heavily involved in social media as a business owner I have had the opportunity to uncover those loop holes and share them with desperate friends who suddenly find their kids in hot water. Your child might be a perfect angel and you are certain you don’t have anything to worry about remember that Facebook is full of plenty of people who don’t have good intentions and are not perfect angels.
There are several levels of monitoring your kids that you can take. Facebook is the most prevalently used site by the youth. Here are four levels of security you can chose to take. You can choose what works best for your family now that you can clearly see the loopholes in each scenario.
In the minimum security scenario the parents require that their kids be “friends” with them on Facebook. They often also allow the kids to join Facebook before their 13th birthday because they believe they have a safety mechanism in place.
- Kids can block their updates and photos from one or more people by creating custom lists to share updates with. As their friend you will only see what they want you to see.
- Not everything is public so you won’t see the private messages that are in their inboxes.
In the medium security scenario the parents require that the kids share their password with them. They also may allow the kids to join Facebook before their 13th birthday because they believe they have a safety mechanism in place.
- Kids can change their password at any time without you knowing. When you ask for the password that gives them the opportunity to delete what they don’t want you to see.
- I’ve watched countless teenagers bashing their parents on Facebook while they are supposedly grounded from everything. That is because they can use any device anywhere to access their Facebook accounts. If you don’t control the account you don’t control any punishments.
- All too often parents let their guard down and don’t sign into look at their kids Facebook page because they don’t see the blocked updates and hidden messages.
In the maximum security scenario the parents require kids to be 13 years old to join, use a parental controlled email address to set up the account and add your child’s address as a secondary account user, and set the controls inside the page prior to handing the account over to the child. You can also have your child add you as a secondary account holder to their already existing account.
- NONE because you are in control of the account.
- You have full access all the time
- You can set up the account to get as many or as few notifications as you want sent to your email address
- If your child is grounded you can temporarily remove their email address from the account and lock them out
- You can set up notifications so that you get a text message if they try to sign in from a different device
- You can block anyone you discover is a threat or danger to your child
- You can release control as you desire and even completely remove your email eventually from the account without shutting it down
- Nothing can ever be hidden from you
- Cyber bullying is prevalent and you can block tagging, access and even report bullies with just a click of the mouse.
How to Add a Parent to an Existing Account
Go to “Account Settings” and then chose to edit “email” and you will see written in blue “add another email.” Click on that and add your email account. Once you have done that you can go to “Notifications” and chose to have email notifications sent to you as well.
I know every family and every child is different. Even if you chose the maximum security method you can chose how much or how little you are involved in your child’s account. In the online world there is a dangerous lack of parental involvement. If you child was sitting next to you using foul language, having an explicitly sexual conversation or entering into dangerous territory you would not sit by silently. The truth is that often kids are sitting right next to their parents doing just that on Facebook but it is all unseen and unheard by the parent.
This post was prompted after helplessly watching a 13 year old 8th grade girl brag about being sexually active, glorify being grounded and naughty, bad mouth her parents, teachers and be generally cruel to her “friends” all while her parents wanted so badly to believe she was a good girl that they didn’t want to hear the truth. The truth hits like a ton of bricks and it is better to see it coming then be blindsided when it is too late to help your child.