Facebook and friendships…

Facebook and friendships, an interesting combination. Great opportunities for catching up with friends, networking and organising get-togethers, however, parents need to be aware of the potential pitfalls and make sure their teenagers are aware of the risks and don’t do anything they might regret.

I think this amusing video is an excellent way of communicating the bizarre and artificial world Facebook can create and my girls loved it.

Years ago to make friends you actually had to talk to people now you can quickly make friends from around the country with the click of a button. I love my smart phone and cannot imagine life without it. It is estimated that 91% of pre-teens and teenagers who have a smart phone how have the ability to access to the Internet 24/7 which means access to Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites at their fingertips, any place, any time.

And don’t assume because your child is under 13 they don’t have Facebook page, there are 7.5 million children under the age of 13 who do have a Facebook page and 22% of 8-11 your olds have some form of online profile.

Apart from the obvious risks from strangers, there are other risks. From my experience, it is the early teens when friendships can be particularly testing, unfortunately, many of those arguments now take place in cyberspace without that face-to-face accountability and the damage done to individuals on the receiving end should not be underestimated.

Parents need to talk to their teenagers about of how they use Facebook, Twitter, BBM, KIK etc. It is not just about posting damaging comments but also inappropriate images, many of which will always be somewhere in cyberspace. We need to help our teenagers manage their online reputation, increasingly potential employers search the Internet as part of the recruitment process and by then it is too late to do anything about.

I would encourage parents to have a look around the following websites where there is practical help:

Facebook Safety Centre: http://www.Facebook.com/safety
Safer Internet: http://www.saferinternet.org.uk
Childnet: http://www.childnet.com
KidSmart: http://www.kidsmart.org.uk

About Ruth James

I am a mum with 3 teenage daughters who is running and organising the Surviving Teenagers workshops locally - these are ideal for parents with children aged 10 - 18yrs.
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