Facebook Considering Allowing Access for Kids

Despite problems in recent months with its initial public offering (IPO), Facebook still sits on top of the mountain when it comes to social media. As a result, millions of young people find themselves with social media accounts on the world’s social networking leader, begging the question: How young is too young to have an account?

In recent times, the thought has been put out there that Facebook will consider authorizing membership to children under 13 with parental permission. As it stands now, there are millions of children under 13 with illegal accounts, an issue that can present a number of problems for both child and parents.

Problem Already Exists

According to a survey from ConsumerReports, approximately 5.6 million children under 13 are violating Facebook terms in registering for an online account.

As one child-privacy advocate sees it, the Federal Trade Communication (FTC) and Congress should consider making it so that Facebook creates a section for children under 13 and requires opt-in parental permission.

How comfortable would you be as a parent letting your young child peruse all Facebook–or any other social media site for that matter–has to offer? Would you trust your child’s instincts to know right from wrong, worry that someone who means them harm could come in contact with them, or be concerned they would spend too much time on this type of site?

It is important as a parent or just someone that is concerned about a younger relative, student, or friend, that you remind children why Internet age limits exist in the first place.

Remember, there is a reason individuals are not allowed to drive until a certain age, have their first alcoholic beverage until a specific age, or serve in the military until they reach a particular age. Even though being on the Internet at a young age can seem harmless, there are dangers out there in cyberworld that await kids without the proper security system in place.

Before you let your child sign up for a Facebook account under the age of 13, think about some of the risks they could come in contact with, which include:

  • Being a potential target for sexual predators
  • Giving out personal information that could put them (or even you!) in jeopardy such as credit card numbers, bank accounts, or social security numbers
  • It requires more supervision time from you, the parent, meaning you are taken away from other tasks and responsibilities

 

On the positive side, allowing a child under 13 to have a legitimate Facebook account means:

 

  • More openness between parent and child
  • You can make an agreement with your child that they must get your approval before posting any personal information and/or visiting sites
  • Given that many kids under 13 already are on Facebook illegally, you’d be better able to monitor more users and validate user information

Are Stricter Privacy Controls Coming?

As Facebook and billionaire owner Mark Zuckerberg sees it, given the fact that millions of children under the age of 13 already have illegal Facebook accounts, allowing them to sign up legally (with their correct ages) would give the social media giant the ability to put in place stricter privacy controls for those in that age range.

That being said, some social media experts believe tighter privacy controls are not exactly on Facebook’s economic agenda.

As of late, Facebook has been trying out means whereby kids under 13 could be on the site without lying about their age, most likely under parental supervision. Once such way being discussed is having children’s accounts linked to their parents’ accounts.

In the meantime, do you monitor your child’s time on social networking sites? If not, do you worry that trouble is lurking on the other side of the screen?

 About the author: With 23 years of experience as a writer, Dave Thomas covers a wide array of topics from online security to identity theft.

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7 Bad Habits Kids Pick Up From Facebook

The Facebook generation – that is the trend of our kids and teens today, but what new habits (good and bad) are they learning from social networking?  Since Facebook is the largest and most used social networking site, let’s see what the top seven bad habits kids are learning from Facebook.

You had to have seen this one coming: kids are picking up bad habits from their extensive use of social media giant Facebook. This can’t come as too big of a surprise though, because it stands to reason that something so popular and fun would be bound to have some ill effects. Not that we’re condemning Facebook, mind you, but there are a few potential pitfalls to watch out for regarding your child’s usage.

The following are seven bad habits that kids pick up from Facebook:

  1. TMI – To be honest, many of us are already guilty of grossly over-sharing our personal lives on Facebook. When you have a place to update your status 24/7, though, it shouldn’t come as any real surprise that eventually one’s entire personal life is right there for anyone and everyone to read on their profile.
  2. Inappropriate Friending – It tends to be an automatic reaction for some to “friend” someone after they’ve added you, accompanied by the friend confirmation request, whether this person is someone you know well or not. While they may not like the idea of saying ‘no’, safety should have a higher priority than popularity.
  3. Posting Inappropriate Photos – Inappropriate photographs always seem to find their way onto people’s Facebook pages. For that matter, taking such photos in the first place is ill-advised, to say the least. Coupled with the prospect of being friended by stalkers and strangers, not to mention being available for any potential employers or school officials, this makes for a very dangerous mix.
  4. Poor Time Management – It’s very easy to lose track of one’s time while socializing on Facebook, and hours at a time can be lost without even realizing it, often at the expense of more important things like homework, chores, etc. It may be wise to install a filter software that can monitor use and block certain sites during specified time periods to ensure that your kids don’t spend too much time on the website.
  5. Indiscriminate Downloading – Facebook is notorious for third party apps that seek to gain access to personal data and the friend lists of members who use them. There’s a large risk associated with accepting gifts via some of these app, unfortunately, that could end up compromising your personal information.
  6. Poor Grammar – As with chat rooms, IM’s, and text messaging, all of which came prior to social media, Facebook posts can tend toward cyber shorthand, whether it’s in the interest of brevity or simply born out of sheer laziness. Although it’s acceptable – even necessary in some cases – to limit character usage, it’s very easy for this habit to leak over to your child’s more formal writing and correspondence.
  7. Not Safeguarding Personal Info – Facebook provides varying levels of privacy settings for its users. Members can share everything with anyone, or limit access to their profile to just friends and/or family. Kids today have become ok and even lax with the safeguarding of their personal information, and identity theft, stalking or harassment can end up being one of the penalties for your child being too open with his or her personal information.

Source:  Become a Nanny

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Holiday Blues-Teen Suicide-Facebook-Suicide Prevention

As the holidays are here it can also be a very dark time for some people.

For anyone who has lost a loved one due to suicide, it is one of the most painful issues they will ever face; sometimes leaving an overwhelming sense of doubt, guilt, and silence enfolding the circle of friends and family like no other experience can. In the wake of this tragedy, we are painfully forced to question- What could I have done? Could I have made a difference? Why didn’t I know?

We don’t have a life to lose in this world. We must confront suicide and suicidal thoughts openly and honestly, and use every opportunity to make a difference by breaking the silence and suffering. Ten years ago the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was launched. Its objectives galvanized the country around a common goal.  As a result, we have advanced the science and support for suicide prevention programs nationwide.

New suicide prevention work has emerged across the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and others. One notable achievement is the establishment of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-TALK (8255), a number that can be dialed anywhere in the United States to connect the caller with confidential and expert help.

To accelerate the action needed to prevent suicide, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius launched the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention with the charge to advance and update the National Strategy. The Action Alliance brings together public, private and nonprofit partners to engage every sector of society with a vision of ending the tragic experience of suicide in America.

Facebook is an important part of that partnership, and the new initiative to augment its response to potentially suicidal members by offering the opportunity for a private chat with a trained crisis representative from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline in addition to providing the Lifeline’s phone number. This service will be available to people who use Facebook in the United States and Canada.

The new service enables Facebook users to report a suicidal comment they see posted by a friend to Facebook using either the Report Suicidal Content link or the report links found throughout the site.  The person who posted the suicidal comment will then immediately receive an e-mail from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or to click on a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker.

Preventing suicide is everyone’s business. Nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, and in the past year, more than eight million Americans 18 or older had thought seriously about suicide. As members of a family, a school, business, neighborhood, faith communities, friends, and our government, we all need to work together to solve this problem.

We simply can no longer allow those we live, work and play with to ever believe that suicide is an acceptable solution even in the worst of times.  Everyone needs to learn about the symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse, the warning signs of suicide, how to stand with and support someone who is in crisis, and how to get someone you care about the help they need.

Most of all, we need to be open to talking about these issues in our communities.  Once we begin to support those in need, and whenever possible treat their mental and substance use disorders with the same urgency as any other health condition, we will reduce the rates of suicide, advance health and improve the use of limited health care dollars.

Learn more about the partnership between Facebook, SAMHSA and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Facebook and Your Kids: Age verses Maturity

Facebook has taken a stand on this question since their inception by setting a minimum age limit for its users at 13 years of age. But just because Facebook says 13 year olds may use their social media service doesn’t mean that parents need to allow their kids to become users, does it?

Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Any age: There are some parents who don’t see a need for setting a minimum age limit for Facebook users. Some of these parents simply aren’t concerned with their child’s interaction on the web, any more than they are concerned with any other aspects of their child’s life. Other parents who aren’t concerned about a minimum age have a very different reason. Their reasoning is based on their involvement with their kid’s activities online. They do not allow their kids full and uncensored access to the internet in any form. They have parental controls in place and seldom allow their young children on the internet without their presence there beside them. They may see Facebook as a connecting place with family.

Thirteen: Since Facebook has set this as the minimum age to join their network, many people have accepted this as being the appropriate age. Peer pressure enters into this big time. Facebook has said ‘it’s ok’ and ‘all my friends’ are using Facebook, so why shouldn’t I? There are a lot of fun games and learning opportunities on Facebook for kids this age, but there are dangers as well. Teens this age can be very vulnerable to adults and other teens who might use Facebook to gain a connection with them. Young teens can easily feel flattered by attention from others and innocently assume that people are who and what they represent themselves to be. This puts them at risk for predators of many different kinds. Kids this age often have very volatile emotions as well. This means that everything becomes magnified in their minds. Hurts wound deeper and friendships are taken very seriously. Thirteen may be old enough to use Facebook, but for most kids thirteen to fifteen, their use of this and other social media should be closely monitored and guarded with strict rules of behavior.

Sixteen: Some parents have held the line and refused to allow their kids to engage in social media activities until they are sixteen and in high school. Since, at this age, they are old enough to gain a drivers license, it is assumed that they should also be responsible enough to handle social media activities. Other parents have encouraged their kids to avoid the social media craze simply because it can be a distraction and a time waster, and they want their kids to remain focused on more important aspects of their life than socializing.

Conclusions: In reality, there is no magic age that fits every situation or every child. Since Facebook has set a minimum age of thirteen, it is wise of parents to support this age limit by not allowing their younger children to circumvent the rules by posting a false birthdate. Each child has a different level of maturity. It is the maturity level and sense of responsibility of your child that should be considered when making this decision, not just their age. Regardless of the age, teens should be taught how to use social media safely and responsibly. When rules are not followed, the privilege should be removed.

Source:  Internet Service Providers

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens both online and off.
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Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

forbesSource: Forbes.com

Author: Andy Greenberg

How To Keep Kids Safe Online

Every parent worries about the power of the Internet to expose kids to online predators. Less often discussed: tech’s power to expose kids to their own bad judgment.

Earlier this month, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Cosmogirl.com released a survey showing that two in five teens has sent sexually suggestive messages online. One in five has electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or videos of themselves. And more than a third of teens in the survey say that those pictures tend to be shared beyond the intended recipient.

teeninterkidsTeen exploitation online has long been a hot-button topic for tech-focused politics. Last year, popular teen social networks like MySpace and Facebook were the targets of investigations by several state attorneys generals seeking to purge sexual predators from the sites. MySpace responded by deleting the accounts of 29,000 users whose personal details match them with records of sex offenders, and Facebook is still undergoing a two-year investigation that will track incidents of pornography and sexual advances on the site.

But Larry Magid, a board member of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the founder of Safekids.com and Connectsafely.org, argues that the focus on sexual predators on social networking sites is largely political grandstanding. Much less sensational, and far more common, he contends, are cases where kids simply post too much sensitive or compromising information about themselves online, leading to incidents of cyberbullying and embarrassment.

Social networking sites make an easy scapegoat, he says. But even e-mail can be a source of trouble if kids aren’t careful. “Say a girl sends her boyfriend compromising photos. Two weeks later, he’s no longer her boyfriend, and two weeks after that, he’s angry at her and posts the photo online,” Magid says. “That’s not physically harmful, but it can be psychologically devastating to a young girl.

myspaceThe answer, then, isn’t to engage in witch hunts on MySpace and Facebook, says Magid, but to better educate kids about online privacy. On that front, says Adam Thierer of the Progress and Freedom Foundation, parents and schools aren’t keeping up with the pace of technological culture. “We’re doing a horrendous job in this country of educating our kid about how to behave online,” he argues. “We give them so many messages about drinking, sex, even fatty foods. But when it comes to online safety, we throw them into the deep end of the pool.”

Of course, the threat of sexual predators is real enough. Last year, 19-year-old Alicia Kozakiewicz testified to Congress’ judiciary committee about her experience as a victim of kidnapping and sexual abuse after being deceived online. Six years earlier, she had arranged a meeting with a friend she’d met online, who described “herself” as a 12-year-old redhead. Instead, she found Scott Tyree, a middle-aged man who kidnapped her, imprisoned her and abused her physically and sexually for days before she was rescued by FBI agents.

“I discovered that the boogeyman is real, and that he lives on the Web,” she told Congress at a judiciary committee hearing called to consider toughening online sexual predator laws.

But as nightmarish as Kozakiewicz story may be, it would be a mistake to focus only on these rare tragedies, says Magid. “I’m definitely not saying this didn’t happen, and that it’s not tragic. But we shouldn’t take this case and make this seem like a common occurrence,” Magid says. “This kind of thing is probably as rare as being molested by a member of Congress.”

Instead of living in fear of Internet boogeymen, Magid and Thierer offer a few simple tips for filling the education gap surrounding online privacy. Most importantly, they say, talk to your kids about what should and shouldn’t be publicly posted on the Internet. Be sure they understand that personal details like addresses and phone numbers, as well as private photos, should stay offline.

Also, consider placing any computers in the house in a “public” place, like the family room or living room, rather than a child’s bedroom. This tactic doesn’t just let parents keep Web browsing safe and open, it also helps parents limit the time kids spend online and encourages offline activities like sports or socializing.

One tool Magid advises parents to use with caution, however, is Web filtering software like Net Nanny or Cybersitter, which block objectionable content online. For teens, he says, such software inspires resentment and only leads to kids looking for other sources of Internet access, like a friend’s computer. As cellphones become smarter, they may also offer kids a surreptitious avenue to the Web.

For younger kids, an easier way to keep Web surfing safe may be an emerging group of social networking sites aimed at preteens. Disney’s (nyse: DIS – news – people )Club Penguin is a social network and virtual world for kids ages 6 to 14. On settings aimed at its youngest demographic, the game only allows players to communicate using pre-set phrases, making obscenities or other inappropriate content impossible. Even on its settings for older users, the site employs teams of moderators to identify and ban any user spouting less-than-innocent language.

Another site that mimics MySpace for young teens and ‘tweens is Imbee.com. Imbee’s late creator, Jeanette Symons, who passed away in February, told Forbes.com last year that the site is designed to bring real-world friendships onto the Web, not vice versa. Only a child’s direct friends can view his or her profile, and parents are alerted whenever a new friend is added.

facebook“Younger kids are seeing what older kids are doing with MySpace and Facebook, and of course, they want to mimic it. The problem is that they don’t have the concepts yet to be able to realistically protect themselves,” she told Forbes.com. “Imbee gives them social networking without the risks.”

Symons created the site about two years ago, after her 6-year-old daughter demanded she be allowed to join MySpace. Symons wisely refused that request, and instead built her own social network, hosted on a server in her closet. Soon, neighborhood kids had joined, and today, the site has more than 50,000 registered accounts.

Echoing Larry Magid, Symons believed that the rare threat of sexual predators had, in some ways, obscured the more common problem of kids’ indiscreetly publishing personal information on the Web.

“I don’t realistically think that predators are much worse online than they are in real life,” Symons says. “The thing I worry about is that whatever kids publish today can stick with them for the rest of their lives. Once you publish on the Internet, it’s there for all to see.”