It’s your kid's 13th birthday and they now are technically old enough to setup a Facebook account. But should they?
This is the debate that has been going in in my little social circle. Parents who have practically no social media experience are now being asked to police kids social media activities. Parents hear stories about how facebook and twitter give the outside world too much access to their kids but just like any activity, you need to put on the training wheels first before they ride the bike. Your kids will need Social Media training wheels too.
Social Media is huge and is not going away.
Teach your kids how to manage it now or they will jump on without you knowing and create a mess. It’s kind of like having the “Talk”, you know, the birds and the bees “Talk”. If you don’t have the “Talk” with your kids one of their friends will have it with them first. So you will need to have the social media talk too.
I Prefer Twitter Accounts for Kids
Yes, I prefer twitter over Facebook on so many levels. No. 1 is security. On Twitter either everyone has access to your child’s account or no one has access until approved. No complicated privacy settings in Twitter. What you see is what you get. You can see who your child is following and who is following your child.
I Prefer Private Twitter Profiles for Kids
Private Twitter profiles are like training wheels for kids. It allows them to use the service without being searchable which is a huge plus. I won’t go into detail about how marketers target users on twitter using SEO, third party search tools and the such. I won't go all technical on you but as a longtime user of Social Media, a Twitter account is much easier to monitor than a Facebook page.
Here are a few reasons Twitter lists as why you would want to keep your Twitter profile private:
People will have to request to follow you and each follow request will need approval
Your Profile and Tweets will only be visible to users you’ve approved, meaning that other users will not be able to retweet your Tweets
Protected Profiles’ Tweets will not appear in Twitter search
@replies sent to people who aren’t following you will not be seen
You cannot share permanent links to your Tweets with anyone other than your approved followers
So, Mom, Dad, follow your kids on Twitter. Have their tweets sent directly to your phones. It’s, by far, the easiest way to monitor their social activities.
As for Facebook…
I have never been a huge fan of Facebook. It’s the one social media platform I have been on the longest, but the privacy settings drive me nuts.
Facebook technically allows a child to setup an account and block Mom and Dad from viewing most anything. There could be a folder in pictures that you can’t see or certain status updates you could be blocked from. With the many, many, many levels of privacy settings in Facebook you have to wonder how a parent with little to no social media skills could possibly monitor their kids on Facebook?
A tech savvy child could give his parents the illusion they are seeing their child’s whole profile but in reality they are only showing you the part they want you to see. So I won’t be going into Facebook here, maybe another day.
But that's my opinion… A Twitter account should be used first to introduce your child to Social Media before a Facebook account, at least until you feel comfortable knowing your kids know how to conduct themselves online.