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When Social Media Safety Gets Personal | Mary Biever | One Writing Mother

When Social Media Safety Gets Personal

My years of training youth and youth leaders on safer approaches to social media got a personal perspective this week.

I started Facebook before my kids turned 13 so I would be ready to guide them on the rules of the social media road. The past 4 years, we’ve learned together how to parent and be parented with a Facebook twist. For years, I thought we did most things right. Not only were Richard and I our kids’ first 2 friends on Facebook, but their 3rd was a prosecutor.

This week, we had our first security incident. Within hours of 1 of my kid’s posting of a new profile photo with a new hairstyle, a private message was received. From an adult friend of a friend commenting on the new look. Sounds innocent enough until you think about it. My teen sent an email of it to me with the subject line: “screenshot stalking.”

The only way a friend of a friend could have noted the new haircut was to be searching a mutual friend’s friend list. The thumbnail shot wasn’t big enough to show the change. So the “friend of a friend” had to be actually going to my teen’s Facebook page to check it out.  Within hours of a change. And then responded to that change by private message, with an under 18 year old.

On Tuesday, September 20, the 4-H Tech Club had set a Social Media Safety workshop at McCullough Library at 6 p.m. A 4-H group from Massachusetts is planning to participate via Skype. It’s free and open to the public.

My perspective changed. As Jack Bauer sometimes said, “This is personal.”

What new safety recommendations can I make now?

  • If you have friends under 18 on Facebook, set your privacy settings so your friends don’t appear on your wall.
  • Youth under age 18, and especially youngest Facebook members should receive messages from friends only.
  • Facebook requires 13 and older to be on Facebook. Many break this rule and shouldn’t. My teens are old enough to handle a nutty stalker. What about an innocent 12 year old? Or 9 year old?

I will demonstrate how to check privacy settings at the September workshop. Hope to see you there.

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