Dear Parents: Facebook and Internet Safety from Local Students…

Dear Parents -

The Grand Forks Youth Commission exists to identify, promote, improve, increase and provide services and programs for young people in Grand Forks. We invite you to read through the following and learn a little more about internet safety and how to use social networking sites. The Grand Forks Youth Commission cares. Help us make the internet a safer and kinder place for you and your children.

Tips for parents and teens:

- Create your own page. The best way to learn the ins and outs of Facebook is to create your own page. A great way to start talking to your teens about their Facebook experience is to ask them to help you create your own page.

- Control your information: Be selective about what you share by customizing the recipients of your posts. Activities on Facebook can be viewed by others.

- Use strict privacy settings: Review your privacy settings page. Facebook defaults privacy settings to public until a user makes it private.

- Pre-approve tags: Choose the settings that allow you to see everything you’ve been tagged in to accept or deny the tag before it goes on your page.

- Don’t post your location. You should do this for safety and privacy reasons. You can prevent people from tagging you at a location in the How Tags Work section.

- Set rules about what’s appropriate to post. No suggestive photos, no photos of them doing anything illegal, and no photos of them doing something that they could regret in the future. Be thoughtful about status updates, wall posts, and comments. Remember that once they post something, it’s out of their hands. Future employers may have access to your page.

- If in doubt, take it out. Use the “Remove Post” button to take down risky posts.

- Self-reflect before you self-reveal: Remember to think about who will be seeing your posts and comments before you post them. You may need time to cool off and think about the situation.

- “Friend” younger teens. Some teens don’t understand they’re creating a digital footprint. Help them understand how to use it safely. Keep in mind that kids can block you from seeing things so check in with them too.

- Talk to your high school teens about whether they’re comfortable letting you “friend” them: Many will be. But if you are your teen’s friend, don’t fill their page with comments, and don’t “friend” his/her friends. Many parents say Facebook is the only way they know what’s going on in their teens’ life, so tread cautiously.

- Choose your battles: You’ll see the good, the bad, and the truly unfathomable. If you don’t want your teens to unfriend you, don’t ask them about every transgression. Keep it general.

We ask that you and your teens review these suggestions to reach a greater understanding of social networking sites and how to run them safely. The internet is a very public place and you create a digital footprint with whatever you do. By using these simple tips you will generate a positive footprint for you and your teens to model theirs after. We have included some extra websites to help you further understand social networking, its effects, and how to run it privately.

Balancing Screen Time:  http://www.ikeepsafe.org/category/balancing-screen-time/

Tips for parents about Facebook:  http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/facebook-parents

How to prevent cyberbullying of your child: http://www.ikeepsafe.org/parenting/changing-tides-cyberbullying-prevention/

How to get a handle on Facebook privacy settings: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/how-get-handle-facebooks-privacy-settings

Digital Influence/Popularity: http://www.ikeepsafe.org/digital-citizenship-2/digital-popularity/

Facebook Newsletter for Parents: http://www.facebookforparents.org/newsletter.html

Digital Footprint:  http://cnettv.cnet.com/sizing-your-digital-footprint/9742-1_53-50111778.html

TO DOWNLOAD THIS INFORMATION CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK:  http://legacy.grandforksherald.com/pdfs/FACEBOOK%20AND%20INTERNET%20SAFETY%20FROM%20GF%20YOUTH%20COMMISSION.pdf

Note about the Grand Forks Youth Commission – The Youth Commission is a group of 24 young people between the ages of 14 and 18 who advise the Mayor’s Cabinet on Young People and advocate to the community on behalf of youth. The Youth Commission is a diverse group of youth representing many perspectives, ages and backgrounds. The Commission is an important way for youth to be actively involved in decisions of community entities that affect youth. Youth Commissioners develop leadership skills, encourage other young people to get involved, and voice the concerns and needs of our young people.  For more information on the Grand Forks Youth Commission visit:  http://www.grandforksgov.com/gfgov/home.nsf/Pages/Youth+Commission

Mary Lien, Character Education Coordinator

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