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A Parents' Guide to Facebook

A Parents' Guide to Facebook

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Published by Derek E. Baird
The guidebook is published in partnership with the iKeepSafe Coalition.

The guidebook is published in partnership with the iKeepSafe Coalition.


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Published by: Derek E. Baird on Nov 08, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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By Anne Collier and Larry Magid
A Parents’ Guide to
Page 1 of 32
to our guidebook for parents! It’s designed to help you understandwhat Facebook is and how to use it safely. With it, you will be betterinformed and able to communicate effectively with young Facebook users inyour life. That's important because 1) if something goes wrong, we wantour children to come to us and 2) as the Internet becomes increasinglysocial and mobile, a parent’s guidance and support are ever more key toyoung people’s well-being in social media and technology.
Note to readers
: Facebook adds new features and updates old ones on aregular basis. This guide has the latest available information at time of  publication (fall 2010). If you find anything in the guide that is out-of-date, please send an email to admin@connectsafely.org.
What is Facebook?
Facebook is a social networking site used by more than 500 million peoplein every country on the planet, so far in 70 languages. The site’s minimumage is 13, but teens represent only a minority population on Facebook. It’sused by a lot of adults, certainly including parents. But not just individuals –Facebook’s also used by businesses, organizations and governments all overthe world, to send marketing messages, seek charitable funding andcommunicate with customers and constituents.Facebook is certainly not the only social networking site. There arethousands of them, based all over the world, some general-interest socialsites for people in a specific country and some for specific interest groups inmany categories – students, sports fans, film aficionados, cooks, travelers,gamers, music lovers, etc. Some social sites are designed for use oncomputers, some just for mobile phones. Facebook is accessed by both.
What do people do on Facebook?
They chat, share photos (more than 100 million new ones each day!), postvideos, stay in touch and share personal news, play games, plan meetingsand get-togethers, send birthday and holiday wishes, do homework andbusiness together, find and contact long-lost friends and relatives, reviewbooks and recommend restaurants, support charitable causes....In fact, there’s very little people
do on Facebook. It’s sometimes calleda “social utility.” Like a power grid, it provides the supporting infrastructurefor the constantly changing everyday activities of hundreds of millions of users, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The amount of activity on Facebookis almost inconceivable. Every month, users add more than 30 billion pieces
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of content (comments, photos, Web links, blog posts, videos, etc.) toFacebook.In effect, the “product” of Facebook is a living thing that changesconstantly. Unlike the media we parents grew up with – books, newspapers,and even radio and television – it’s “user-driven,” the collective product of its millions of users’ lives (not just their social lives), updatedspontaneously, moment by moment around the world. It’s a large swath of the wired and wireless social Web that increasingly mirrors all of human life.
Why do young people use Facebook?
For as many reasons as adults do. The research of psychologists andsociologists shows us that they use social networking sites for:
Socializing or “hanging out” with their friends, for the most part friends atschool
Day-to-day news about their friends, acquaintances, relatives, and peergroups
Collaborating on school work
Validation or emotional support
Self-expression and the identity exploration and formation that occurs inadolescent development
What sociologists call “informal learning,” or learning outside of formalsettings such as school, including learning social norms and social literacy
Learning the technical skills of the digital age, which many businesspeoplefeel are essential to professional development
Discovering and exploring interests, both academic and future professionalinterests
Learning about the world beyond their immediate home and schoolenvironments
Civic engagement – participating in causes that are meaningful to them
Is Facebook safe?
Just like communities in the physical world, no social networking site,virtual world, online game, or any other social-media service can provide aguarantee of 100% safety, Facebook included. Why? Because this is thesocial Web, and safety depends a great deal on users’ behavior toward oneanother. Facebook provides safety and privacy features and education forits users. Parents would benefit from visiting Facebook’s Safety Center, acomprehensive resource in the site with information for Teens, Parents,Educators, and Law Enforcement. That in-site safety information and this

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