Expert advice on how to keep your child safe on Facebook
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Expert advice on how to keep your child safe on Facebook

Leo Meyer from Bitdefender Country Partner for consumer products gives advice on how parents can ensure their children are safe on Facebook.

Child surfing the net
Child surfing the net/ iStock

More than 2.23 billion people across the globe use Facebook; of this massive figure eight percent represent children between the ages of 13 and 17 which is a staggering 170 million, give or take a few thousand.

Truth be told, many of the above children are younger than 13 and lie about their age to be able to sign up. A recent study by UK regulating body Ofcom says that more than half of children aged 11 and 12 have a social media profile, despite most platforms' minimum age being 13.

“To be fair, Facebook is a social media platform developed for adults and as result children are exposed to contact with strangers, inappropriate content, cyberbullying, identity theft, sexual predators and data collecting – it is a downright dangerous environment,” says Leo Meyer from Bitdefender Country Partner for consumer products.

In December 2017, Facebook launched Messenger Kids to officially address the problem of children under 13 who use Facebook Messenger, and to give parents more control over the social media their children use.

The children’s version allows parents to approve specific friends and see with whom they grow. Although marketed as ”safer,” a month later a group of child protection and advocacy NGOs asked Facebook to turn it off; they claimed it was an attempt by the company to “prey on a vulnerable group developmentally unprepared to be on the social network”.

What can you do?

For one, try and delay your child’s usage of Facebook till they are mature enough to navigate it safely. When you finally allow them to create an account, instil basic rules to keep them safe. Also, as a parent, try and step ahead of their Facebook activities by:

Checking their profiles to make sure they’re not giving away sensitive information like a home address, phone number, school name, photos or videos;

Talking about their online friends, especially if they have befriended someone you don’t know yet – also discourage and warn against any friendships with strangers;

Monitoring the Facebook apps and games they have installed and what data it collects;

Checking their privacy settings and making sure they are only posting to their friends and not the general public;

Showing them from the get-go how to block and report posts or individual users;

Reviewing tags and demonstrating how they can first view the pictures and posts (they are tagged in) before allowing it to be posted;

Proactively dealing with cyberbullying.

Invest in robust security software

Whilst the above are good steps, installing security software will undoubtedly take a lot of the guesswork out of your child’s Facebook and other social media activities.

“Bitdefender Total Security or Bitdefender Internet Security 2019 offer a Parental Control feature that will assist with your efforts to keep your children safe whether they are using the app or website version of Facebook,” says Meyer.

With Parental Control you can set-up perimeters such as what applications children can gain access to. The easy-to-use “block and save” feature enables you to quickly go through the application list and select suitable options such as Facebook and Instagram;

Furthermore, you can block websites by specific categories. Here a white and black list of websites can also be created – for example a can only gain access to certain social media sites and others are blocked like Facebook.

Screen time can also be controlled – perimeters can be set for certain time intervals or times of the day. In fact, multiple profiles can be created such as “week profile” and “weekend profile”. Obviously, your child will still be able to contact your or make an emergency call during this “restricted” time.

Once the above is created, you will also have access to Children Activity Reports, provided via e-mail daily, weekly or monthly. These activity reports will give parents insight into important information such as:
Attempts to access blocked apps and websites; and Blocked call attempts.

Article source - Liquid Letters.

Image courtesy of iStock/ BrianAJackson

ALSO READ: SA Kidnappings: How to keep your children safe 

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