My daughter turned 13 last week and one of the many rites of passage that comes with teenager-hood, is the legal ability to open a Facebook account.
While I have many concerns about this as a parent, I also know that for the next several years I will have significantly more influence over my daughter than I will for the rest of her life after she graduates. And it occurs to me that it’s better to empower her to make good choices while on the Internet, than to ban her from those potentially dangerous opportunities. Since I wrote a book about youth empowerment, I suppose it would also be hypocritical to block her access to avenues, like Facebook, when done in the right way, its use can be a positive way to network and build relationships.
So I’ve written a contract for my new teenager, with guidance from a lot of my Facebook friends who have already established boundaries for their kids, or have thought about the guidelines they would use.
FACEBOOK (FB) GUIDELINES
• Parents must approve someone before I can add that person as a “friend” because “friends” have access to my profile. Parents and I will be FB “friends.”
• All Facebook “friends” will be people parents have met, or are verified by parents through another trusted adult.
• All photos posted on FB will be appropriate and fully clothed.
• Photos posted by others will be monitored and my name blocked if inappropriate or disrespectful to me. Profile and friend pics will be blocked from view by strangers.
• No personal profile contact information will be accessible to anyone, including “friends”.
• I will work with my parent on establishing and maintaining application rules and settings, including the downloading of games.
• My name will not be “searchable” on FB.
• Parents have my FB account password and edit rights on all profile and settings information.
• I will practice appropriate online communication, to prepare myself for other future Web applications. This includes respectful language, careful self-disclosure, basic grammar rules and refusal to participate in any form of cyber-bullying, including the spreading of rumors. I will “unfriend” anyone who is doing or saying hurtful things.
• In all Internet communication, I will consider, “Would I want my grandmother to read this?”
• Facebook time is limited to 15 minutes per day.
I agree to abide by the Facebook guidelines above, and include parents in addressing FB concerns. All terms subject to change by mutual agreement. I understand that if I do not follow them, my Facebook privileges will be suspended.
Do you have any other suggestions? I hope this helps other parents out there who want to empower their teenagers to use Facebook in a positive way – please link to this post and share with all who might benefit!