UPDATE: Please watch the above video.
Until Facebook fixes this work around that kids are using to surf the internet without a filter, we can’t support it.
This was original review before the work around was discovered.
What It Is:
Facebook is currently the undisputed worldwide colossus of social networking.
What It Does:
The website allows users to create their own profile (called a “wall”) on the site that features photos, videos, images, external links, and text-based status updates. Users can then share their profile with other users called “friends” that they intentionally connect with. Facebook friends can post messages to each others’ walls or send direct, private messages. The Facebook mobile app for smartphones also allows Facebook friends to make internet-connected voice calls to one another. Facebook also makes use of the searchable “hashtag,” which originated on Twitter. By putting a hash mark (#) in front of a word or an unspaced string of words, that term becomes searchable on Facebook, letting users see instances where their friends (or public pages) have used the same hashtag. In addition to private profiles, Facebook also features public pages for just about everything imaginable, though Facebook’s own restrictions generally don’t allow for pornographic images. Written text is unrestricted, however. Facebook also allows for both public and private “group” pages, meaning groups of users can communicate with one another in one localized space on Facebook and share collectively all the things they can share on their walls individually.
Would My Child Want It?:
Facebook has become de rigueur among many kids as just a way to connect. Also, many organizations (like churches and schools) are using Facebook groups instead of email as a convenient way to send out mass communications to members. It isn’t a stretch to say that, in many circles, having a Facebook account is just as expected as having an email address. However, recent trends indicate that teenagers are moving away from Facebook as a primary means of digital social interaction. Facebook’s age restriction is age 13 and up.
Where Can It Be Used?:
Facebook is working diligently to put itself wherever there might be a screen. It’s practically everywhere.
What Should I Watch Out For?:
- Because Facebook is the unquestioned titan of social media, it is also a big target for scams, hoaxes, and spammers.
- Facebook continually updates their design, functionalities, and privacy policies, sometimes making it an uphill battle to stay on top of who can and cannot see your information or get in contact with you.
- Facebook friends can send each other private direct messages that can include links to other sites or uploaded audio and/or video, making it easy to share illicit content like pornography, hate speech, or threats.
- Since Facebook doesn’t charge to access or use their service, they are constantly harvesting as much data about their users as they possibly can, then use that data to target advertising at their users.
- Facebook often features advertisements that use illicit or salacious imagery to get clicks. These advertisements can utilize images or advertise products you might rather not see.
- Facebook apps allow back-door access to unfiltered internet.
- Facebook’s functionality can facilitate cyber-bullying.
- Facebook’s “likes” system has, in some social circles, devolved into a distorted form of currency—the more “likes” your post gets, the better you feel about yourself. This can lead users to bend their internal moral compass in order to post things they know will get “liked.”
- Interaction on Facebook is not the same thing as face-to-face interaction.
What Are The Positives?:
- Facebook allows for communication of a thought or idea to a wide audience.
- Facebook is a convenient, web-based way to streamline communications.
- Facebook groups are extremely convenient for keeping group members on the same page.
- Facebook is a fairly good way to stay on top of current trends, or at least be in the loop as far as what your circle of friends/influencers are discussing.
What Are The Negatives?:
- Facebook’s content restrictions are easily defeated through private messages or external links.
- Facebook can become all-consuming for many users and actually contribute to or outright create behavioral issues like depression.
- Facebook makes cyber-bullying or cyber-shaming fairly easy.
- The “likes” system on Facebook can contribute to a performance style of interacting with social media; rather than “being yourself,” you may say/post something in order to get more “likes.”
- Inconsistent privacy standards can leave your data/information exposed.
- When used with poor judgment, Facebook can become a nightmare for future employment, college acceptance, etc. As employers and college advisory boards become more savvy, they are turning to examining Facebook profiles of prospective hires/students in order to learn more about them.
What We Think:
Facebook isn’t going away anytime soon, and it’s practically a necessity for some facets of the modern experience. But, as with all social media, we recommend that you use Facebook yourself if you are also allowing your children to use it (we understand the likelihood is high that you’re already using it). Make yourself aware of your child’s Facebook activity and the friends they allow into their world. We also recommend that you have your child’s username and password in order to check in on them should the need arise; if your child isn’t okay with that, then they aren’t mature enough for Facebook. Facebook is probably too ubiquitous to avoid completely, but since it can also be appropriated in negative ways, we cannot give it our full endorsement.