Just about all kids—and increasingly adults—are involved in social media, whether Facebook, Twitter or numerous other new avenues. Social media can be a lot of fun and a positive influence on your and your child’s everyday life. Like most things, there are also downsides and risks, particularly with sites like Facebook that encourage the sharing of photographs and other personal information. But, as long as you and your children are well informed about the potential risks and take steps to protect yourselves, social media can be a positive experience for all.
Accessing Social Media
There are two ways to access Facebook from a mobile device. If the mobile device has a web browser, you can visit Facebook.com in the web browser on the phone. The version of Facebook you see will be the “mobile” version, so it may be different from what you’re used to but has the same basic features and functionality as the website.
If your mobile device supports applications (smartphone), you can also download an application (“app”) to access Facebook. The links below will take you right to the appropriate page for downloading the Facebook app associated with your particular device.
Other Social Media
Many other social media websites, such as Twitter and Flickr, can also be used on your mobile phone. As with Facebook, these sites can be accessed from your phone’s web browser or installed as applications if your device supports applications.
Check the standard apps on your device first; if what you’re looking for isn’t there, try searching Google Play (the former Android Market or BlackBerry AppWorld for social networking sites and see what applications are available to download.
FACEBOOK: Getting Privacy Settings Right
General Concerns about Information Sharing
Facebook is set up to potentially share all your site information—from personal information to political or religious views—with literally anyone “snooping around.” People can learn a lot about you if your personal page is totally open—including people with whom you don’t know. Information such as your address, phone number, date of birth is particularly sensitive and can be used to steal your identity, or invite unwelcome contact from strangers or casual acquaintances.
Setting Up Privacy on Facebook
There are directions on Facebook’s website for using privacy settings, managing audiences for postings, reviewing options for photo tagging and accessing apps and websites. It’s all very detailed and can be a daunting process to manage. Still, there are some very important basic steps to take to make sure you filter out unwanted access to your basic personal information and social interaction. We’ll review the most important steps. All other more specific information can be found at www.facebook.com/help/privacy/basic-controls.
General Privacy Settings
To get to your privacy settings, click the account menu at the top right of any Facebook page, and choose Privacy Settings. This page contains a group of general controls for your Facebook account, such as who can send you friend requests and messages. Go through each of these to assure that you have the settings you desire. For everything else that you share on Facebook, you can choose your audience right when you post; just click on the drop-down box which will allow you to select the exact audience you want for that particular posting. As a general rule of thumb, access to your information and your social interactions should be only with those you have designated as a “friend.”
Basic Privacy for Personal Information and Posts
- You choose who can see basic information like your hometown or birthday right when you edit your profile (timeline). For profiles, click the Edit button at the top right corner of the page, then use the audience selector next to each piece of information to choose who can see that info.
- For timelines, click About and then click the Edit button. Use the audience selector next to each piece of information to choose who can see that info.
- Only you and your friends can post to your Wall (timeline). When you post something, you can control who sees it by using the audience selector (drop-down box mentioned before). You can also use the same tool to change who you are sharing that post with after you post it for others to see. When friends post, whether people can see it depends on your Wall (timeline) privacy setting selection.
- Before photos, posts and app activities that you’re tagged in appear on your profile (timeline), you can approve or reject them by turning on Profile (Timeline) Review.
- To choose who can see your tagged photos, posts and app activities after they appear on your profile (timeline), use the Profile (Timeline) Visibility privacy setting.
- To see exactly what your profile (timeline) looks like to other people, use the View As tool.
For additional information, or further clarification on privacy controls for Facebook, click on: www.facebook.com/help/privacy/basic-controls
10 BASIC TIPS FOR TEENS: Staying Safe on Social Media Sites
- Understand how a site shares information before joining it. Some sites will allow only a defined community of users to access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view postings.
- Keep control over the information you post. Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people, such as your school friends, your club, your team, your community groups or your family.
- Keep personal information to yourself. Don’t post your full name; and never post your Social Security number, address or phone number or the same information about other people. Be cautious about posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline. This could include the name of your school, sports team, clubs and where you work or hang out.
- Make sure your screen name is really anonymous. Don’t use your name, age, hometown or other identifiable elements. Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it doesn’t take a genius to combine clues to figure out who you are and where you can be found.
- Post only information that you are comfortable having anybody see. Many people can see your page, including your parents, your teachers, the police, the college admission officer or manager of a business where you might want a job. Remember that once you post information online, you can’t take it back—it’s out there.
- Be careful when posting photos. Most kids post lots of photos of themselves, friends and activities. Generally that’s OK—just be sure you don’t post photos that are inappropriate or too personal. Too many people have access to them, including employers, relatives or acquaintances with whom you wouldn’t want to share.
- Avoid flirting with strangers online. Flirting can have serious consequences because some people lie about who they really are, so you never really know who you’re dealing with.
- Be wary of meeting a new online friend in person. Before you decide to meet someone, do your research: Ask whether any of your friends know the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart about it: meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell an adult where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
- Tell an adult if you feel threatened by someone online. Trust your gut if you have suspicions about someone or feel uncomfortable because of something online, especially any sexual discussion with an adult. Tell an adult you trust and report it to the police and the social networking site. You could end up preventing someone else from becoming a victim.
- Don’t announce vacations or other travel plans. Telling the world you’ll be out of the house is an invitation for someone to break into your home, do damage or any number of other things. Share travel experiences and pictures after you’re back.