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How To Talk To Your Teen About Facebook

At EyeGuardian, we’re in your corner. And we also understand your child’s need to fit in with their peers.

In an age when almost every kid is on Facebook, its best to approach this head on and have a frank talk about dangers from Facebooking they may not realize. We will address:

Over 500 million Americans are on Facebook. That means anyone on Facebook is likely to get exposed to all the online world offers – including bad stuff. Today’s pop culture thrives on teens imitating celebrities, entertainers and actors. But not all their behavior sends the right messages. Your teen needs to have a clear head to sort through what is worthwhile and what is not.

They also need to understand that pop culture thrives on the salacious – everything, naughty, risqué and scandalous, in order to get our attention. But the very taboos that get our attention are also often warning flags we should stay away from. By this we mean drinking alcohol, sexual activity and drugs.

Privacy Concerns Top

In an age where making a sex-tape has propelled several of today’s top pop icons into their seeming luxurious and happy lifestyle, merely sending a person a photo you took of yourself in a bikini seems like nothing. But in reality it is a slippery slope and its time you talked with your teen about the serious and lasting consequences of these and other behaviors.

Despite their positive and not-so-positive intentions in the moment, whatever your teen writes, does and documents of themselves in photo or video cannot be controlled once it gets online. Sites like Facebook make sharing the bad stuff just as easy as sharing the good stuff – and while both are a couple clicks away, the bad stuff gets shares much more frequently.

EyeGuardian exists to serve you in your role to manage photos, posts, messages and tags as soon as possible to stop a wildfire of problems before it quickly gets out of control.

Your teen also needs to be reminded that all their friends have friends, who in turn have friends, and so on. So what they share in Facebook to a person or select group, in reality ends up being public to hundreds of thousands of strangers.

Teens are often just beginning to develop boundaries, prudence and discretion and despite their desire for independence, this is exactly the time they need an older, caring guide watching out for them.

Privacy is very fragile online. There’s a joke that “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” that pretends that doing something naughty can stay a secret, but the truth is that what happens on Facebook stays on Facebook… cell phones… Twitter… blogs…and in people’s minds for years and years to come!

Our headlines contain instance after instance where a would-be beauty queen or political leader is disqualified and publically humiliated because of something private in a moment of foolishness from years back that got public! Certainly documenting yourself to the world in formative and somewhat naive years only sets a person up for a reputation disaster in the making!

For this reason, and we will repeat this important point: it is best to treat everything posted as public no matter the software settings because you never know who will share what about you. Taking this approach will free yourself from many issues later on.

Your teen would not want friends talking behind their back, but by putting personal messages and images on Facebook, they directly invite thousands of strangers to talk behind their back.

The answer is twofold. First is the self-awareness and prudence to control what is shared in the first place – knowing what they intend to share privately, rarely stays private. It’s best to be safe and if you don’t want the entire world to know it, don’t share it on Facebook.

The second is to set their Facebook profile privacy settings accordingly. Facebook allows you to customize most any aspect of your privacy, but those settings are located in areas most people never find or use.

Note: EyeGuardian’s ProfileWatch feature is very useful for this, alerting you to areas of your Facebook profile we suggest are at risk.

The area we find that most Facebook users, parents and kids alike, don’t realize is that setting your privacy to your own “network” (which allows both direct friends and friends of friends to see), opens you up to more people than you realize.

Here are the facts: even if you and all your Facebook friends are average Facebook users, and not a single one of them is above average activity, your “friends of friends” network ends up containing over 18,000 people! Remember, “friends of friends” is not considered safe because it means, not just multiple but exponential exposure.

And in the case of socially active users, this “friends of friends” network easily spans hundreds of thousands of people. So any aspect of your Facebook profile that is visible to this network is much larger than we take the time to calculate.

Strangers and Posers Top

Next, your teen needs to know about the potential for stalkers, predators and posers on Facebook. Sometimes not all the profile information on a person’s Facebook profile is true. Some people will fudge their information to appear more likeable to one group or another. Other people will outright lie to trick you into believing you are connecting with someone entirely different than reality.

People can lie in their photos, their gender, their age and their intentions. Some of them do it as an alter-ego online. Some do it to lure your kids into offline contact that can result in anything ranging from a bad influence to criminal behavior.

As unpleasant as this reality is, prisons are filled with millions of individuals who started with smaller acts that led them on a path to worse and worse acts.

Your ablility to watch and safeguard your children’s Facebook contacts is essential to their well-being. There’s simply no way they can discern every single instance -- even adults fall victim to posers and predators.

Tell your teen that this is the reason they should NEVER post personal or contact information about themselves – their age, address, phone number, email address. Even sharing information about another site (Twitter, Flickr or MySpace or a Website) can be an unintended source of revealing their private or contact information if that information is out on any of those places too!

The practice of regular communication with your teen is vital so any bad influences can be nipped in the bud.

Have them share with you any concerns and especially any invitations from online contacts to connect in person in any way, shape or form!

Nudity / Porn / Sexting Top

Regarding Nudity, Porn and Sexting on Facebook, you will want to protect your teen by making them aware of the dangers that are out there and they will eventually encounter on Facebook.

However it is best for you to get the point across, make it clear that big problems can easily start with something that seems small and harmless.

Remind them that anything they send or post can end up being seen by everyone so its best to treat Facebook as everything is public no matter what your settings are.

Here are some ideas for your talk:

“Online, sooner or later you will run into photos of people being naked or doing intimate or perverted things. Even at school people might think it is cool to take photos of themselves, usually with their cell phone’s camera, and not wearing some of all of their clothes.

This is the time in life of lots of curiosity and a high need to be liked. Boys will want to see more of girl’s bodies and girls will want to be attractive and liked by boys.

While there is nothing wrong with wanting to be liked, the problem with cell phones and Facebook is that photos and text messages can easily turn to a sexual nature – with nasty jokes, crude comments, cut downs and showing private body parts. When curiosity or bullying or criticism gets into photos, messages and posts, not only can you get hurt but many people can quickly see what you said and did or what others said about you.

You need to watch out for this. If someone sends you something you don’t like, you need to let me know. If they talk about your body or private parts or want to see your body, they should not be doing this. If and when this happens, I can help you. Let me know so we can talk about what to do.

So never ever take photos of yourself for others to see unless you are fully dressed. Never post a photo of yourself that you would be embarrassed by if the whole world saw it. And it is a good idea to not even post photos of yourself in your swimsuit because no matter what you think about it, the people seeing the photo might think something else.

If you ever have a question or doubt or something hurtful happened to you on Facebook, tell me about it right away. Facebook can be fun and I want to keep it safe for you.”

See more: go to details on Sexting.

Let EyeGuardian help address the privacy and bad influences concerns that come with using Facebook. Buy EyeGuardian today.