Facebook Is So Yesterday…


social media photo

Young people today have better things to do than hang out on Facebook. While the site and app still have some use for teens, most are migrating to different platforms—sites where their communiqués won’t scandalise granny or enrage dad.

This article initiates a new e-Quipped series called Parent App Alert, where we’ll rummage through teen cyber-hangouts—old and new—looking for risks and offering safety strategies.

Teen Trends in Social Media

A 2014 study called Taking Stock with Teens found some interesting results about adolescents and social media. Surveying 7,200 American teens, the study found that Instagram is preferred over Facebook, and iPhones are the favoured device.

Of the seven social media platforms included in the study, the only ones showing a growth in use by teens were Instagram (up to 76% of teens surveyed) and Pinterest (22%). Tumblr use remained steady, with 21% of the adolescents using the site.

Facebook engagement by teens was found to have plummeted between April and October 2014, from 72% to 45%. The main reason cited? Avoiding friend requests from “Gen X” users and the freedom to post their thoughts and photos without upsetting adults.

Parent App Alert

Image by Geralt

With kids flocking to sites like Snapchat, Twitter, Tumblr and especially Instagram, how can parents keep up? Are these sites risky or kid-friendly? What privacy settings are available?

Since Facebook (rather, the FB exodus) is the launch pad for this series, read on for a few simple steps to keep the FB hangers-on safe.

Facebook boasts 1.49 billion users worldwide. With that volume of traffic, it’s no surprise that bad company and bad press have dogged the site. Facebook has seen everything from cyber-predators to cyber-bullies, sextortion, gatecrashed parties, and run-of-the-mill account hacking.

Basic Settings to Keep Your Kids (and Yourself) Safe on Facebook

The best steps are common sense: Enforce the age limit (13 years or older if your teen is socially immature. It they have lots of drama at school, they don’t need it online too.). Limit FB friends to RL (real life) friends. As always, parental expectations mean nothing without parental inspections. Do regular check-ups to make sure your teen personally knows everyone they’re sharing information with. Get rid of the ones they don’t know.

While you’re in your teen’s profile, check the settings:

  1. Set your account privacy to Friends only. Remember that the main elements of your profile will still be visible (including your name and a thumbnail of your profile picture), but you can limit other information that is shared.
  2. Limit who can contact you on Facebook. There is a strict setting in Privacy Shortcuts, which means only people who know you can contact you through Facebook. Under Settings, there is another privacy setting which allows you to control who can contact you by the phone number and email address that you supply.
  3. Set up login notifications. This means that you get an email or text message if someone accesses your account from a strange computer or unknown device. Taking this step can minimise some of the inconvenience (and horror) of someone hacking into your account. You can add an extra layer of protection by setting it up so a code is sent to your mobile phone, which is needed before anyone can login.

Need Help?

For step-by-step directions on how to implement these settings, check out this in-depth article from Naked Security by Sophos.

Stay Tuned!

The Parent App Alert series will explore the new social media landscape our kids now occupy. Second stop, Instagram.