We use the Internet daily for information about anything and everything. Today parents of school age children are fortunate as school districts have websites containing a wealth of information including school calendars, homework assignments, teacher’s email addresses, as well as links to textbooks and outside resources, all of which is really good stuff.
Chances are your teen is using Facebook, and like it or not, Facebook is another online resource that is becoming increasingly more important for students. Group pages abound as a primary form of communication for sports teams, clubs, and study groups. Facebook is now so mainstream that it can be a social handicap if a student is not on Facebook. My daughter gets her scheduling changes, reminders, and information she needs to know about her school team’s activities via the team’s group page on Facebook – without it we’d be lost. Just the other day she was offered to join a club via a group page invite.
Facebook is being used experimentally in the classroom in Amsterdam, as Timeline is a great tool for organizing history complete with images, audio, and video. Check out the history of Magellan's voyage or 20th century inventions. Although not in English you can get the idea. It’s a great way to learn
For older students, needing to use Facebook may not be an issue as hopefully they’ve learned the Facebook dos and don’ts. Parents still need to make sure their young teens and older students practice “safe Facebooking” and know how to handle their Facebook data.
Here is a good example. My computer savvy high school sophomore was recently tagged in a photo on Facebook. The only problem was this picture was not my daughter nor was it an appropriate photo for her Timeline. In another instance, she was tagged in an unflattering photo which also automatically posted to her Timeline. These situations are easily to avoid – just make sure the automatic Timeline posting setting is off, meaning you have to approve any posts or photos before they appear on your Timeline. Navigate to Privacy Settings, and edit your settings for Timeline and Tagging. “Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your Timeline” should be on. This way if you are tagged, the post or photo will not appear on your Timeline, it will land in your Activity Log.
Your Timeline Activity Log will let you approve an item which will cause it to post on your Timeline, or you can dismiss the item, but it won’t remove the tag. Your name is still associated with the item. To remove a photo tag, you need to click on the photo, then click on Options below the photo. You can then remove the tag, and also request that the photo be removed from Facebook. You can also compose a personal message that will be sent to the poster asking for removal.
Facebook does offer some safeguards for users under 18. Their Timelines and posts do not appear in public searches. Also only their friends, friends of friends, and networks they may belong to can view their posts. Facebook does offer its own resources at www.facebook.com/help where you can find links to its Safety Center and also a link to report abuse of the service. Note that you can view this help feature even without a Facebook account.
My suggestion for parents of teens on Facebook is to learn as much as you can about Facebook, review your child’s Account and Privacy settings with them, and be their friend on Facebook so you can watch out for inappropriate posts. My daughter may not be too happy that I know so much about Facebook, but we both know she is a bit safer because of it.