Facebook wants everyone, including kids to share everything about themselves online. They have hired lobbyists and begun a Political Action Committee to overturn the current Child Online Privacy Protection Act because they want kids to be allowed on Facebook under the age of 13.
Frequent users of Facebook don’t care much about privacy and how much they’re sharing about themselves to the online world. Adults can make those decisions about their personal privacy, but can kids? The lines are blurring about privacy. Kids are watching reality shows on television that “let it all hang out” and kids think these shows are a reflection of real life. How much is your child “letting it all hang out” on Facebook. What are others doing with this “sharing” when it gets there?
What someone does in their home environment is usually different from their work environment. How people relate to their boss, is different from how they relate to a close buddy. How a person dresses for work is different from how a person dresses when they go out with friends. There are lines that need to stay defined in all areas of life. This doesn’t happen on Facebook.
Some people that share on Facebook may be quite careful about what they share. But what about their friends and maybe not so good friends sharing information about them? What are those “friends” posting about your child, what pictures are they sending around? Adults may be taking it upon themselves to protect their online privacy on Facebook by closely monitoring photos and comments posted about themselves by friends. Are kids being taught to do this? Parents need to keep a watchful eye and let kids know that they need to keep track of what others are posting about them in addition to what they are posting. The last thing a child needs is to have someone post things about them that are not true or could tarnish their reputation. Kids need to be taught that they should not be afraid to ask someone to remove a picture or comment about them that they don’t approve of.
Sharing on Facebook and other social networking sites is here to stay. Letting it all hang out and being lackadaisical about what your sharing is not a good idea. There need to be limits to what is shared. As parents we need to educate our children/teens about how to share on social networking sites safely and appropriately so that what’s posted online doesn’t come back to haunt them in the future. With 25% of colleges now screening applicants as part of the admission process and 90% of employers now screening and 70% rejecting applicants after screening Facebook, it’s more important than ever that we teach kids these Facebook skills to protect their online reputation. Get in the know parents about what your kids are doing online and keep them on the path for success.