Facebook took a strong step forward recently in advancing the cause of ensuring safe and responsible teen social media use, with an obvious and not surprising focus on Facebook.
Facebook’s Guide for Educators and Community Leaders is a resource designed to help adults help teens towards this end. In our view, too many internet safety resources for schools or parents of teens have as a foundation keeping those teens off of social media, or tightly controlling what they do and how they interact online. Facebook’s goal is a noble one:
“Give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
It’s an important distinction – helping versus blocking or filtering. In doing so, Facebook enlisted the help of a host of partners, including The Family Online Safety Institute, WiredSafety, ConnectSafely.org, Edutopia and others.
Parents need to understand that once teens reach a certain age, they are going to access the internet one way or another. If their computer is filtered or kept in a common area at home to enable parent surveillance, they can use their phone. If their phone is filtered, they can go to a friend’s house and use their devices. Social media is the way teens communicate much of the time.
If your 15 year old asks if he can have a Facebook account, “Yes, and let me help you use it responsibly” is a great answer. Facebook in schools? “Yes, and here’s how we will use it to make the learning process more engaging” could be a home run.
The Facebook Guide goes into more detail and has links to external content in the following areas: Digital Citizenship, Digital Hygiene, Mobile and Guidelines for Educators.
Nice work by Facebook connecting with an important faction in the lives of teens. It is often argued that Facebook’s privacy settings are too complex to navigate, and their policies can be too intrusive, but they’ve done a good turn for teens by making this set of resources available to educators and parents.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.