Monday, December 7, 2009

Creating Facebook and MySpace Profiles

Social Networking is here, and is probably going to remain for quite some time.  I have had a number of parents ask me for advice on what to do when their child wants to create a Facebook or Myspace account.  Here are a few tips that I commonly share.

There are a couple ways to go about this.  The route you take depends on the relationship you have with your child.

One route is to keep her username and password, and log in to check it regularly.  This way you will have access to everything that your child sees and does.  Depending on the age of your child, this may appear a little overbearing.  As stated earlier, the choice you make needs to be based on your relationship with your child.

Another option is to set up an account of your own, and have your child add you as a friend.  This way you will still be able to monitor his/her whole profile without having to use her log in information.  The one thing you won't be able to see would be all of her messages that he/she sends directly to other friends.

Either way when you create a new profile, make sure that either you or your child sets the profile to private.  This will prevent his/her information from being viewed by random people.

The route you take depends on how much privacy you are comfortable giving your child.  This is your call.

Here's the big things to look for:

  1. Who are her friends?  If it is ANYONE you don't recognize I would check on it.  The people who would use sites like this for harm will hide their name and identity, so make sure the people she is friends with are people you know.

  2. What is she posting?  If she chooses to use the blog or writes on other people's wall, check out the kind of things she is writing.  Even if you can't access her private messages you can get a very good feel for what she is doing on the internet.

  3. What pictures are being uploaded?  Pay close attention not only to pictures that your child uploads, but pictures that other people are uploading of him/her.  Most users tag people in their photographs, so photos that other people upload that have your child tagged in them will appear on his/her profile.  Make sure both your child and your child's friends are not uploading anything inappropriate

  4. How is your child presenting him/herself?  More and more schools and employers are checking social networking sites.  Encouraging good digital citizenship not only means that you keep inappropriate content off, but that you encourage your child to present him/herself in a positive way.  I recommend the NetSmartz video Profile Penalty

I hope this is helpful and gets you started.  Please feel free to contact me with any further questions.