Simple Way #1: Facebook Rights
When we were kids the rule of the day was obfuscation. We had secret handshakes, code words, check-points and of course alibies. A good friend would take a bullet for you – meaning he would never admit to your parents something you did – no matter what the torture. Those were the days — it was like living a James Bond movie and you never knew which friend’s parent was a double spy and would turn you in (snitch!).
But, alas the cold war is over. It’s a brave new world and not only are your kids not hiding anything, you wish they would! Unfortunately, we are the first generation of parents to face this new reality, and the rule book hasn’t been written.
My wife likes to tell our children something along the lines: "Facebook is not in the Bill of Rights." There is an appropriate age to let them have an account, and you have to use your own judgment for when that is. But as long as they are living under your roof, then you have a right, if not the responsibility, to have total access to all their internet activity.
Practically speaking, they have to "friend" you on Facebook. What this means is, it’s very hard for your child to hide what they are up to. It’s not easy to have a duplicate page under a different name. If you understand how Facebook works, it’s pretty much got you once you are in, and if your kids have switched to another format, you will soon know about it.
Simple Way #2: Monitor, Monitor, Monitor – "Did I say monitor?"
Before Facebook, a savvy child (which kid isn’t?) could easily hide their internet activity. One of the things Facebook has tried to do, is be the place you live and describe your daily life.
It really doesn’t bother me that much that "Big Brother" knows what I do, as long as "Big Brother" doesn’t meet me or tell anyone else. A parent is a different story. Your kids need to know that you are the eye in the sky.
This, in of itself will give them second thoughts about what they say and do. It’s not the be all and end all, but it certainly is a very good start.
Stay tuned for more.