By Antigone Davis, Global Head of Safety
Every year on Safer Internet Day we recognize the importance of internet safety and the responsible use of online technology. This year, Safer Internet Day features a call to action focused on creating a better internet for everyone, including younger generations. As a company that reaches people around the world, we’re taking this call to action to heart.
Creating a better internet for kids starts with empowering parents. The fact that that parents see themselves as the best judges of how their kids should use technology helped guide our development of the Messenger Kids app. Parents control their kids’ accounts and contacts through the Messenger Kids Controls panel, creating a safer and more controlled environment for their kids to talk to trusted contacts.
As a mom and Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, I know how overwhelming it can be to raise a child in an increasingly digital world. So this year to mark Safer Internet Day, we want to help parents start a conversation with their children about technology and the choices they make when they go online.
Tips to Keep Kids Safe
We often hear that parents aren’t sure how to approach these topics with their kids. To make it easier, we’ve compiled some tips to jump-start the conversation.
- Let your child know the same rules apply online as they do offline. Just as you’d tell your child to look both ways before crossing the street or to wear a helmet while riding their bike, teach them to think before they share online and how to use the security and safety tools available on apps and devices.
- Be a good role model. The saying that children will “do as you do, not as you say” is as true online as it is offline. If you set time restrictions on when your child can use social media or be online, follow the same rules yourself.
- Engage early and often. Data suggests that parents should be a part of what their children are doing online as soon as they start to participate. Consider adding them as a friend them when they create a social media account or an account on a messaging app, and have conversations with them often about what they’re doing and who they are talking when they go online.
- Set the rules and know the tools. When your child gets their first tablet or phone and starts using apps, it’s a good time to set ground rules. It’s also a great time to take them through the basics of the tools available on the app. For instance, teach them how to report a piece of content and how to spot people who don’t have good intentions.
- Ask your children to teach you. Children are often even more in touch with the newest apps and sites than adults, and they can be an excellent resource. The conversation can also serve as an opportunity to talk about issues of safety, privacy and security.
Listening to Parents
We recently conducted a survey of parents to get a fuller and clearer understanding of their attitudes toward technology. The survey found that:
- 64% of parents trust themselves the most to guide their child’s technology use.*
- 77% of parents say they are the most appropriate to determine how much time their child spends using online technologies.
- 77% of parents say they are the most appropriate to decide the right age for their child to use online digital technologies.
When creating products for kids, we know we have to get it right. That means going beyond the basics of complying with child privacy laws. It’s why we we’ve been talking to thousands of parents and top experts in the fields of child development, online safety and children’s media. It’s also why we’re investing in further research about kids and technology.
We’ve committed resources to partner with independent academics on research studies about kids, tweens and teens and technology. Our goal is to better understand the connection between young people’s well-being and how they use digital technology. We will also convene conversations with stakeholders over the course of this year, beginning with our Global Safety Network Summit in Washington, D.C., this March.
Introducing Parent Conversations: A New Section of the Parents Portal
We want to provide parents with information to make the decisions that are best for their families.
Today we’re launching a new section of our Parents Portal where parents can find the latest information from child development experts, academics, thought leaders and people at Facebook about topics related to kids and technology. We’ll post videos and Q&As, as well as interactive polls so parents can express their voice in these important conversations. To visit Parent Conversations and find tips on keeping your kids safe online in today’s digital age, visit facebook.com/Safety/Parents/Conversations.
*In February 2018, Facebook conducted an unbranded survey with an online panel provider. The participants were a nationally representative sample of 275 US parents of 6th – 12th graders and 604 children aged 8-17.