If your teen is on Facebook, it is so important to tell him/her to report to you anytime a stranger tries to engage them on Facebook, and you might want to come up with some boundaries about going to “Pages” and commenting on posts by pages, because unlike your friend’s walls, those pages are public.
What I mean by “pages” is anything your teen has “liked”, like music groups, tv shows, celebrities, etc. For example, a couple of years ago my son was on a Lego Collectors page where someone had asked a question about a specific piece that is not available in Europe. This person commented on a post by the page and wanted to know if anyone had this piece in the US and could describe it. My son innocently saw the question, and knew the answer so he commented on the post and answered his question. This person continued to ask more questions. Within a day, he sent an “inbox” message to my son saying, “Hey, I tried to send you a friend request but it won’t let me. You seem like a cool guy, send me a friend request.” (If you recall from a previous post, I mentioned how important is was to set your teen’s privacy so that only people with mutual friends could send a friend request.)
My son thought is was suspicious, and he immediately showed it to me. As I investigated, this guy had a cartoon as his profile pic and only had “liked” pages that young boys would be on and had only a handful of Facebook friends. Suspicious, to say the least! My son replied with “Nah, man, sorry I don’t friend people I don’t know,” then promptly “blocked” him from ever contacting him again. It was lesson learned, but please be aware that when your kids post and comment on pages they have “liked” they can be targeted by predators.
Bullying can also be a problem on Facebook. Experts say that the younger the teen group, the meaner the bullying can be. A recent study said that 9 out of 10 teens say they have seen some type of bullying on social media sites. It seems that Facebook is trying to address it and provide some solutions for it. This is a great link for you and your teen to take a look at:
Some of the bullying takes place in private groups and pages created with the intention of spreading rumors etc. This should be discussed and my suggestion is to have some real clear expectations and consequences for gossiping or bullying (ie: no more Facebook). Hopefully this isn’t even an issue for you, but it is good during the training period to talk about what is acceptable.
As we went through our “training period” we talked about being careful not to just “like” a page or join a group just because your friends have, but only like those things that you truly like and want more information from. More liked pages just means more unfiltered posts and advertisements, so teach your kids to be prudent and selective.
On the upside: not ALL Facebook pages are bad! Legacy Moms is pretty good, right? Find out if your church’s youth group has a page, and find other ministry pages or Christian groups or singers that they like. There are some great pages that post encouragement, Scripture, and truth. It’s all about making Facebook work for you, not against you!
Next post: The two biggest benefits to having your teens on Facebook – stay tuned!