Today is Safer Internet Day, an international education and awareness-raising effort spanning more than 100 countries around the globe. This year’s theme is ‘Play Your Part for a Better Internet’. Here Facebook’s head of global safety, Antigone Davis, gives some advice to parents and teenagers.
Three tips for teens
1. Think before you post. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and write or do something that may seem funny at the time. But remember, what you say can really hurt someone, or come back to haunt you.
We’ve found it helpful to think about these questions before posting: Is this how I want people to see me? Could somebody use this to hurt me or my reputation? Would I be upset if they shared it with others? What’s the worst thing that could happen if I shared this?
Also remember that any information you post – whether in a comment, a note, or a video chat – might be shared in ways that you didn’t intend. Before you post, ask yourself: Would I be OK if this content was shared widely at school or with my future employer?
Of course, we all make mistakes. If you find yourself wishing you hadn’t said or done something, it’s never too late to apologise.
2. Know who you are communicating with. On Facebook, every time you share something – a post, a photo or a link – you choose exactly who can see it. You also choose your friends on Facebook and for this reason, it’s important to only accept friend requests from people you know. If you ever receive hurtful or abusive messages or posts on your profile, you have options. Depending on how serious the situation is, you can ignore it, ask the person to stop, unfriend or block the person, or tell your parents, a teacher, a counsellor, or another adult you trust. Everyone deserves to be treated with respect.
3. Play your part. On Facebook, you can always report abusive content—whether it’s on your profile page, or someone else’s. Everyone who uses Facebook agrees to abide by our Community Standards, which define what kind of posts are welcome and aren’t welcome. For example, hate speech, graphic violence and bullying are not allowed on Facebook and we remove this type of content when it is reported. You can also report inappropriate Pages, Groups, Events and fake or impostor profiles. (Remember that reporting is confidential, so no one will know who made the report.)
This list is just a start. Facebook is a community, but a community only works well if it has certain rules and resources to ensure people feel safe. That’s why we are so dedicated to providing the Facebook community with the tools needed to feel safe and supported. But a community also requires people to take care of it and act responsibly. This month, take some time to think about the ways you can be a better neighbour on Facebook.
Five tips for parents
1. Stick with what works. Typically, you can employ the same parenting style for your kid’s online activities as you do offline. If you find your child responds best to a negotiated agreement, create a contract that you can both sign. Or, maybe your child just needs to know the basic rules. In that case, you can establish them early when you first buy a mobile device for him or her.
2. The old adage your kids will “do as you do, not as you say,” is as true online as it is offline. Try to be a good role model. If you set time restrictions on when your child can use social media or be online (i.e., no texting after 10:00 pm), modelling that same behaviour makes a big difference. If you want your child to be civil online, model civility and respect in your texts to him or her.
3. Engage early and establish norms. Data suggests parents should engage online with their children as soon as they are on social media, by friending them as soon as they join Facebook or following them on Instagram when they sign up. It gets harder to do so if you wait. While this is not surprising, it is worth noting that just as you lay the foundation for dialogue and conversation offline with your children early, you have to lay that foundation early online. Even before they are on social media, talk to them about technology as a whole. It can help lay the groundwork for future conversations.
4. Seize key moments. There are many natural times to have these conversations: when they get their first mobile phone (it’s a good time to establish ground rules), when your child turns 13 and is old enough to join Facebook, Instagram and other social media services, or when your child gets a driver’s license (it’s a good times to discuss the importance of not texting and driving).
5. Ask your children to teach you. Not on Instagram? Maybe you’re interested in trying a streaming music service? If your children are already familiar with these services, they can be an excellent resource. The conversation can also serve as an opportunity to talk about issues of safety, privacy and security. For example, maybe you can ask them questions about privacy settings as you set up your own Facebook account. And, as most parents know all too well, your child will likely appreciate the opportunity to teach you.
Antigone Davis is head of global safety for Facebook
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