Facebook, for all its imperfections is still one of the best ways to connect to people. It helps us find long lost friends, as well as helping us organize chats, events, causes and a hundred other social activities.
The Facebook environment is a relatively safe community, specially for our children who are just learning how to interact in the digital arena (although they do start very young these days, and in many cases, know more about their ?elders? on how to operate in the social network universe).
During the early days of the internet, the horrors of ?chat rooms? have made online communities a major issue for parents and their brood. Facebook’s more user-friendly and open interface (remember how sleazy those chat-rooms looked ) have made social networking a more acceptable digital activity.
It is understandable for parents to be wary of the dangers that an online community brings into their home, specially if it reaches the bedroom of their kids. Many parents, even in this day and age, do not allow their children to participate in the online social network community, and especially on Facebook which is where everyone and everybody resides.
Parents cannot afford to shield their offspring from online networks as they will be limiting the digital experience that their children will be needing to survive, function and excel in the digital world of tomorrow. So what are the options and alternatives?
First, parents must look at what the problems and risks are in allowing their kids on Facebook.
Although many parental experts have cited numerous dangers, we will be pointing out the three most common risks ( in a 3-part series) that children and their families face in being part of the Facebook world.
Part 1: Bullying ? or to be more precise, Cyber-bullying.
Unless you are living under a rock, you must probably have heard of at least one incident or news report where a teen or young adult has committed or attempted suicide because of being bullied in Facebook or other digital networks. It is said that in the United Sates, one teenager for every five has experienced online bullying (In actual personal contact, statistics show that the figures are doubled . Source: Center for Innovative Public Health Research)
Analysts say that these types of online bullying may involve being ridiculed in a public space like the Facebook ?Timeline?. But,reports indicate that the worst bullying is actually hidden as the perpetrators do not want the risk of being caught.This is possible on social network sites like Facebook where the bullying is usually hidden from parents and friends since Facebook has private messaging options. Likewise, the same type of digital bullying is seen in text messaging on mobile phones.
What to do? – Experts could not give a sure-fire solution. All that can be done they say, is to communicate with children on the matter and be aware of the signs and indicators if your child might be a victim of cyber-bullying. Facebook and other websites have launched hubs and information portals on how to best deal with online bullying.
Watch out for Part 2 of our series on : 3 Facebook ?Dangers? for Our Kids & How To Fix It!