When your kids are begging you to join a popular social networking site like Facebook, it can be difficult to resist their pleas. After all, they want to be included in all the grownup fun, too — so how do you let your kids experiment while making sure they’re safe at the same time? The answer: be extremely strict with profile settings. Here are some ideas to take into consideration:
Your child’s personal information should be the most protected asset of his/her profile. Why? The profile shows birthdate, a descriptive “about me” section, interests and hobbies, contact data, school data, and more. The best bet for your child is to allow “Only friends” to see this information — and refrain from putting information like addresses and phone numbers online in the first place. To get to these settings, go to the first page of account > privacy settings.
They Should Be Completely Unsearchable
To prevent spammers and anonymous strangers from contacting your child, you should make his/her profile completely unsearchable. (That way, only people that know you can find your child in your friend list and subsequently friend him/her.) To do this, go to “Privacy” section under “Settings,” and set the visibility to “Friends of friends.” (You can also set it to “Only friends” so that your son/daughter only friends those people she/he has met in person.) T
Remember that there’s a “public search” option, as well — meaning that people can search your child’s profile via a public search engine, like Google or Bing — so make sure that you uncheck the box next to “Allow.” To get here, go to: account > privacy settings > apps and websites (edit your settings) > and look for public search. Click on it, and make sure the box next to “Enable Public Search” is unchecked.
Make Pictures Visible Only to Close Family Members and Friends
This is a big one: pictures are always the biggest and most dangerous identifier for children. Make a friends list for “family” and, on the “photos” tab of your profile page, click “album privacy.” Under “Who can see this?” choose specific family members, or designated groups. To edit, go here: Account > Privacy Settings > Sharing on Facebook > Customize Settings > Posts By Me and select “Friends and Family.”
Checking Into Places Off
Don’t want strangers to know where your child is at? Make sure the Facebook “Places” app is disabled; this feature allows your child (and her friends) to check herself into a designated location (theatre or restaurant, for example.) If you’re not sure whether the app is enabled, go to Account > Privacy settings > Apps and Websites > Apps You Use and uncheck the box next to it; also, go back to Privacy Settings > Things Others Share > and look for “Friends Can Check Me Into Places.” In the dropdown menu, select “disabled”.
Disable Automatic Wall Posts and Comments
Sometimes, acquaintances (and even close friends) will post personal or potentially humiliating information on a friend’s wall, so you’ll need to disable automatic posting. To do this, locate the setting “Allow friends to post on my wall” and uncheck it. People will be able to communicate via message only. Go to Account > Privacy Settings, and click on “Personal Information and Posts” and uncheck the box that says “Friends Can Post On My Wall.”
If for some reason your child does have contact with someone he/she feels uncomfortable with, you can choose to add that individual to your block list. That person won’t show up in your network, and won’t be able to contact your child or see his/her profile at all. Click on account (in the right hand corner of your screen) > Privacy Settings > Block Lists to view and edit your settings.