Consumer Reports recently published a survey about how people use Facebook and what the social site does with all the data they collect from their millions and millions and millions of account holders. It covers a lot of ground, so today we’re going to focus on what Consumer Reports discovered about children and their Facebook-related habits.
As always, kids want in on the fun, even though they aren’t officially allowed to network with adults on social media until they turn the magic age of 13. According to the survey, about 800,000 Facebook accounts were shut down last year because the users were under 13 years of age.
Nevertheless, the survey estimates that some 5.6 million underage kids still have accounts. Here’s a more depressing number: 800,000 kids were harassed or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook last year. If you’re a regular Kiwi blog reader, you’ll know the toll that’s taking on young people today.
So what are parents doing to remedy this toxic online world of relentless cyberbullying and taunting? Not nearly enough, finds Consumer Reports: “Our survey also shows that most parents who knew their preteen used Facebook had not discussed online threats with them or “friended” them, while up to a third did nothing to keep up with their children’s Facebook activities.”
According to the survey, parents of Facebook users under the age of 13 were least engaged with what their kids did on social sites. Which can be an epic fail. “The kids most often targeted are 11- to 13-year-olds, because they’re more naive and less likely to tell an adult about it,” says Nils Frederiksen, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office.
Children who say too much on Facebook and share it with too many users become easy targets for child predators. If kids reveal that they’re unhappy at home or at school they appear vulnerable to the creeps who want to exploit them. So parents of younger children should be hyper aware of what their kids post and how they express themselves online.
By law, social sites aren’t allowed to collect, use or disclose personal information about preteens without the permission of their parents. Which sounds fine, until you realize how many preteens are passing themselves off as adults on social networking sites.
So how does a parent stay on top of what their kids are doing on social media? Here’s some good advice from the survey:
“What you can do. If your young teenager wants to join Facebook, insist that he or she “friend” you, says Colleen Cronin of East Hampton, Conn., who interceded when she found evidence of bullying among children in her son Cameron’s Facebook network. Monitor kids’ activity. Make sure that they really know their “friends” and that they set the audience for all wall postings to “friends” only.”
The takeaway: friend your child if they’re on Facebook. They may not love it at first, but you can’t let them shut you out of their online lives. And even though they may roll their eyes, remind them you’re doing it to keep them safe because you love them, not to snoop.
Talk To Us! Would you feel comfortable friending your kids on Facebook?
Image Source: The Anti Social Media