Though many social media platforms such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter have proven to be worthy contenders for Facebook, the latter still holds the largest userbase among the giant platforms. Interestingly, many parents use Facebook along with their children. Though Facebook isn’t necessarily a dangerous place for kids, it does have the potential to show inappropriate content to them.
If you want to use Facebook’s parental controls to secure your child’s digital wellbeing, there are a few tips you have to take into account to use them effectively. This is because Facebook doesn’t have parental controls per se. It has settings, akin to parental controls, but they’re only accessible through one’s own profile which means kids can easily change the settings you’ve chosen when you’re not there. The settings that Facebook allows you to change are as follows:
- Who Can See What You Share
- How to Keep Your Account Secure
- How People Can Find You on Facebook
- Your Data Settings on Facebook
- Your Ad Preferences on Facebook
After you’re learned how to set up Facebook parental controls and decided on what each of these settings should be for your child, keep the following 10 tips in mind to make your parental controls all the more effective.
1. Talk to Your Kid About Facebook
Since the parental controls on Facebook can easily be overridden by your child, it’s important that you talk to them, so they understand exactly why you’re concerned. Start with talking about how social media in general can be bad, such as sharing fake news, promoting an unhealthy lifestyle, and showing content that isn’t appropriate for your child’s age. Afterward, you can focus on Facebook in particular and how it should be used by your child. If your child doesn’t understand what those settings are for, they’ll just as easily change them to suit their own needs.
2. Use Parental Control Apps
Much of the content on Facebook is indirectly inappropriate since it can lead to your child clicking on links and going to other URLs and places on the internet they shouldn’t be seeing. If you use a third-party parental control app like Safes or Google Family Link, you can monitor URLs and websites that are dangerous for your child.
3. Learn How Facebook Works
Familiarize yourself with how Facebook works, including its features, settings, and privacy options. This will help you make informed decisions about your child’s online activity. If you understand the platform better, you’ll be better equipped to deal with threats and dangers on there.
4. Add Your Child as a Friend on Facebook
If you don’t have a Facebook account yourself, create one so that you can add your child as a friend and monitor what they post and their general activity on the platform. You can also see the activity of the accounts that your child has added as friends. This way you’ll be more familiar with what dangers threaten your child and how well they’re doing in their digital life.
5. Age Restrictions
Ensure your child meets the minimum age requirement for using Facebook (typically 13 years old). Younger children should not have their own accounts due to privacy and safety concerns.
6. Choose Who Can Share With Your Child
In the privacy settings, called “Who Can See What You Share”, there are a number of things you can decide on including:
- Phone Number
- Email Address
- Date of Birth
- Relationship Status
- Current City
- Post & Stories
It’s best that you change these settings to “Only Me” or “Friends”, depending on who your child’s Friends are on Facebook. Also, if there are accounts you want to block for your child, this is the place to do it.
7. Keep Your Child’s Account Secure
There are a number of things you can do to keep your child’s account secure. For example, help them choose a secure password. For example, using a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols can make for a secure password which you can let your browser save or write down somewhere.
You can also activate two-step verification and notifications so that your child is notified if anyone else logs into your child’s account with an unrecognized device. You can also make it so that you receive this notification through your own email.
8. Decide How People Can Find Your Child on Facebook
This is probably the most important privacy setting for your child. In this section you can change settings such as:
- Who can send friend requests to your child
- Who can look your child up using their phone number and email
- If search engines can index your child’s account
A good suggestion is to only let your child’s Friends search for your child’s account using their email or phone number. You can also deactivate search engine indexing so that your child’s account doesn’t show up in people’s search engine results.
9. What are Your Child’s Data Settings on Facebook?
You can check which websites or applications your child has accessed through Facebook in this area. You can use your Facebook account (similar to a Gmail account) to log into many websites, which is usually never a threat. You may discontinue any of them that your child does not utilize; however, this is not essential. The best value of this area from a parental control standpoint is that it shows you what other websites your child visits. Some of them may be offensive.
10. Choose Your Ad Preferences on Facebook
Here it’s important to make sure that the ads that your child sees aren’t inappropriate for their age while also not collecting data from them unnecessarily. Here you can change the following:
- The ads your child sees
- Your child’s social interactions that others can see
You can’t disable ads completely. But you can choose whether you want your child’s information such as their hometown or their education to influence the ads that Facebooks shows them. Even if you turn all these options off, Facebook will still be collecting your child’s data.
It’s clear that Facebook’s parental controls, though not foolproof, offer a range of tools to manage your child’s account. From adjusting privacy settings to monitoring activity, each step contributes to a safer online environment. However, the true efficacy of these controls hinges on open communication, trust, and understanding between parents and their children.
Understanding how Facebook operates is paramount to effective parental control implementation. Educate yourself about the platform’s features, settings, and privacy options to make informed decisions that align with your child’s needs and maturity level. By adding your child as a friend and actively monitoring their activity, you can stay attuned to their online behavior, friends, and interests. Additionally, utilizing third-party parental control apps such as Safes and Google Family Link can add an extra layer of protection, blocking access to inappropriate content and guiding your child’s online interactions.
In essence, effective parental controls on Facebook require a holistic approach that merges technology, communication, and education. By fostering a sense of responsibility and awareness, parents can help their children navigate the complex digital landscape with confidence, ensuring a positive and safe online journey.