The advancement of technology and the internet led to the emergence of social media. Social networks allow people from across the globe to connect and share information. As the years have progressed, kids have begun to utilize these platforms including Facebook and Messenger.
According to the Pew Research Center, 51% of teens say they utilize Facebook but isn’t their most commonly used platform. Either way, as a parent, you must be educated on Facebook and the dangers it poses to children.
What Is Facebook?
Facebook is one of the many social media platforms utilized by people of all ages. Facebook users can connect with friends, family, and strangers. Through posting, users and businesses can share photos, videos, links, GIFs, and more. They can also interact with others by liking and commenting on a specific post.
To connect directly with a specific user, a person may utilize Messenger, Facebook’s instant and private messaging app. Other features of Facebook include stories, connecting your Facebook account to your Instagram account, and joining a Group.
According to Facebook, they only allow children 13-years-old and above to join. However, this doesn’t prevent younger children from creating an account. Unfortunately, many parents don’t realize Facebook could expose their children to various dangers.
Facebook Dangers To Watch Out For
On Facebook, kids are vulnerable to being cyberbullied by people they know and strangers. Cyberbullying can come in the form of a tagged post, post comment, or direct message. Typically, someone cyberbullies children due to peer pressure, the need to feel powerful or accepted, or because they suffer from low self-esteem. An example of cyberbullying is negatively commenting on one’s appearance like calling them ugly.
All online accounts are susceptible to being hacked, including on Facebook. Hackers look for a way to obtain a person’s account login information whether by having the device itself or email. Otherwise, they may pose as someone else on Facebook and try to persuade the target to provide their login information.
Children are prime targets of identity theft as their crime isn’t typically uncovered until it’s too late. On Facebook profiles and posts, children can share a ton of personal information. Such as their full name, date of birth, the town they live in, and where they frequently visit.
Identity thieves may also try to obtain a child’s information by privately messaging them. This can mostly all be avoided by setting a child’s account to private.
Social media platforms are filled with criminals and creeps including stalkers. However, what many don’t realize, online stalking can easily lead to in-person stalking. By simply checking a child’s check-ins and posts, stalkers will know where a child visits and possibly where they live.
Catfishing doesn’t just apply to online dating apps, but social media as well. On Facebook and other platforms, a person can easily pretend to be whoever they want.
When targeting children, catfishers will often pretend to be someone close in age. Typically they’ll use images of a person who is physically appealing and of the opposite sex. They may even pretend to be the child’s classmate to gain their trust. The motives of catfishers can range from just wanting a relationship to scamming the victim.
Scammers scour social media looking for anyone vulnerable and easily persuadable to target. They mostly target children or the elderly.
Some commonly utilized tactics include sending fake links, malicious software, or telling the victim they’ve won a prize. They will then prompt users to provide personal and/or financial information. Obtaining this information can lead to identity theft and financial fraud.
FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
Kids use Facebook to stay up-to-date with their friends, family, influencers, and public figures.
However, depending on what they post, it could result in children developing feelings of FOMO. They could feel left out by not being invited to their friend’s party. Or become jealous of the life an influencer is living. Having FOMO could lead to depression and suicidal thoughts.
Facebook Safety Tips For Parents
Set-Up Your Child’s Facebook Account
If you allow your child to have a Facebook account, set it up with them. This includes their settings, personal information, what is set to public or private, and who they Facebook friend request.
Friend Your Child On Facebook
Once their account is set up, friend them on Facebook. By doing this, you will be able to view all of their posts, their Friends’ list, and Timeline content.
Utilize Facebook Parental Controls
To help parents out, Facebook provides parental controls to help ensure children stay safe on the app/site. First, Facebook offers Messenger Kids for parents who don’t want their children to have a Facebook account yet. Kids can message parent-approved Facebook uses without having a profile.
Other parental controls include; setting the account to private, blocking specific users, managing who can see your child’s posts, and privacy checkups.
Monitor Their Facebook Use
To oversee all of your child’s Facebook activities, posts, and messages, utilize a Facebook monitoring application. Know what they are up to on the platform and who they are communicating with. By monitoring their Facebook use, you can defend them from dangers and threats.
Set Facebook Screen Time Limits
No parent wants their child to overuse Facebook and other social media platforms. This could lead to FOMO, depression, and technology addicts. Many cell phones have screen time features built-in which enable parents to limit specific app use. Learn more about the screen time options iOS, and Android devices provide.
Frequently Asked Questions About Facebook Dangers & Safety
What are the dangers of using Facebook?
Dangers Facebook users are vulnerable to include scammers, identity theft, catfishers, hacking, cyberbullying, and financial fraud.
Is Facebook really safe?
Yes. The Facebook site is safe for users. Most account vulnerabilities come from the users themselves. Whether it be disclosing personal information, using public Wi-Fi networks, or sharing their login information.
How can I know who searched me on Facebook?
There is no way to tell who searched your name on Facebook.
What should you not put on Facebook?
On Facebook, you should limit the personal information you share and post location tagging. In regards to posting, never post spam or fake news. Also, don’t personally attack anyone and avoid using offensive language and racist remarks.
What are the pros and cons of using Facebook?
The Pros of utilizing Facebook include being able to connect with friends, family, and businesses. As well as the ability to share with others what’s going on in your life.
The Cons of utilizing Facebook include the dangers it poses like hacking, lack of privacy, targeted advertising, and being time-wasting.