Facebook’s top tips for a safer social media experience for teens

Facebook has partnered with nine non-profit organisations and government agencies throughout sub-Saharan Africa to raise awareness about Internet safety.
Facebook has partnered with nine non-profit organisations and government agencies throughout sub-Saharan Africa to raise awareness about Internet safety.

Technology is a lifeline for parents and an invaluable resource for their children – whether you’re seeking parenting advice on Facebook groups, helping your kids research a project for school, or sharing special moments with friends and family that live far away.

To get the most from social media, it’s helpful for parents and their teenage children to understand the tools that platforms such as Facebook provide to keep people safe online.

Parent24 spoke to Facebook Strategic Media Partnerships Manager, Jocelyne Muhutu-Rémy, to find out a bit more about the new portals and strategies that has been applied to Facebook to ensure a safer internet experience.

Jocelyne says, “We're committed to ensuring Facebook and Instagram are places for everyone, especially the youth.

That’s why we offer a range of tools on our platforms to give people full control over their experience, and work with our partners to drive awareness about the practices, resources and tools people can use to protect their online wellbeing."

She shares that for Instagram they have a safety centre called, Instagram Together, where over 30 000 content reviewers have to ensure the content shared on the platform does not include hate speech, violence, cyber bullying etc.

"Safety has become an extremely important focus for Facebook, and we have made massive investments in it,” Jocelyne continues.

Also Read: Local digital expert advises parents how to keep their tweens safe - and we've got two sample phone contracts for you to download

The new tools that have been introduced

Young people can benefit from the following Facebook and Instagram safety tools and resources:

•    Instagram has added a tool that filters commentary that may be inappropriate, offensive or bullying.

•    On Instagram new ways to help stop bullying before it happens have been created.

If someone writes a comment or caption for a feed post that the AI detects as potentially offensive, they will receive a prompt that the language used is similar to language that has been reported for bullying.

They will then have an opportunity to edit the caption or comment before posting.

•    The Instagram Safety Centre (instagram-together.com) is a place where you can learn more about the safety features on Instagram.

•    The Youth Portal, which is a central place for teens to get a better understanding of Facebook’s products, hear from other peers, and get tips and advice on controlling their experience.

This is part of  the safety centre, a resource for topics like suicide prevention, social resolution and bullying prevention.

Jocelyne  says, “We are working hard to ensure our platforms offer people a safe and positive experience.

We encourage parents to equip their children with the tools they need to safely navigate the online world.

Also Read: Children can be exposed to sexual predators online, so how can parents teach them to be safe?

The Facebook parents portal offers some useful links, tips and tricks to help parents and their children have a positive experience online.”

Jocelynne also provided tips to help parents and children stay safe on social media platforms:

1. Talk about it before children are old enough to have an account

There are many great benefits to social media, but we also know there can be pitfalls.

Talk to your children about technology early to prepare them for the cyber-world.

They are only allowed to join Facebook or Instagram at 13, so it helps if they are well-informed at the time they sign up.

2. Set some guidelines

Internet safety is a habit, much like looking both ways before crossing the road.

Parents should talk about why they should be careful about what they share online or accept a friend request from a stranger.

3. Ask them to show you the ropes

If your teen is a regular tech user, why not ask them to show you their favourite music streaming app or social media platform and how it works?

You can use this as a starting point to chat about issues of safety, privacy and security.

This can also help you learn about any apps and services your teen is using.

4. Teach them to think critically

Critical thinking is a key skill for the street-smart Internet user.

Talk to your children about how they can recognise scams, clickbait, fake news, and phishing attempts on the Internet.   

5. Be a good role model

Adults should set the example for responsible device and app usage.

For example, it’s wise to teach them to stop using their phones an hour before bedtime to help them get to sleep. That’s good advice for adults, too.

6. Help them to check and manage their privacy settings

Once your teen has set up a social media account, they can use tools and settings to help them manage their accounts.

Facebook has privacy settings that help users control who can friend them, who can see their posts, and if they share details such as their location by default.                                                                      

Teens can also restrict unwanted interactions on their profiles and easily report accounts, comments and posts for bullying.

7. Tell them to report if they see something, they are concerned about

Facebook has developed a set of policies (Community Standards) that define what is and isn't allowed on its platforms.

There is a link on nearly every Facebook and Instagram post where you can anonymously report abuse, bullying, harassment and other issues.

Using this feature empowers teens to take action if they see something on their feed that is not right.

8. Teach teens to be password-savvy

Make sure they set strong passwords for their accounts and understand why they shouldn’t share their passwords with anyone.

Encourage them to add an extra layer of security by enabling two-factor authentication.

This requires an SMS security code when you log in from an unknown device

9. Engage positively

You can enjoy capturing family moments with a video or photo and have fun together editing, adding filters and using the augmented reality features like bunny ears.

While you’re enjoying yourselves, you can open conversations about tech and what it can do – and ask your teen to let you know if he or she encounters something bothersome or strange online.  

10. Don’t overshare

Teach them not to share information such as their address, phone number or full birthdate on social media since it can make them susceptible to identity fraud or other forms of harassment.

Diana Schwarz, Social Media Lawyer and Child's Rights Activist and partner of the Safer Internet Day campaign says, “Digital platforms have opened up wonderful new avenues for learning, working and playing.

Focusing on Internet Safety in partnership with Facebook is our contribution to helping the youth to freely and safely enjoy the advantages of online connectivity.”

Compiled for Parent24 by Anneline Hlangani.

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Read more:

How old should kids be to get phones?

INSPIRE: This how you can help create a safer world for every child

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