Parent Technology & Literacy Coffee Morning: Facebook

As a follow up to our popular Living with Laptops session in late March, this month’s Parent Technology and Literacy Coffee Morning focused on Facebook, and in particular the privacy settings. To get us started, we watched a Common Craft video that highlights the advantages of social networking (and there are many!):

After watching we brainstormed the way social networks have enabled us to connect more regularly with friends and family. Here are a few highlights:

  • Reconnecting with old friends from high school, and discovering that the connections we have between each other are more diverse than we initially thought.
  • Sharing photos with family and friends around the world.
  • Being aware of what our children are talking about and who they are friends with online.
  • Staying informed after the earthquake last year.

Although we could see that there were many benefits to being connected in this way, there were a few questions raised as well, particularly the issue of privacy:

  • Who can see what I post?
  • Is what I post searchable online?
  • What if someone posts something I don’t like?
  • Who else can see items I’m tagged in?

As anyone who uses Facebook knows, one of the most challenging features is the rapid changes in the privacy and account settings. Here’s a great visual example that clearly demonstrates the changes in privacy policies during 2005 – 2010. Because they’re changing so frequently it can be hard to stay on top of the settings, to make sure you are only sharing with the people you want to share with.

So, it’s important to keep checking back to your privacy settings to make sure that they are how you want them. Here’s the tutorial from Facebook (the most likely to be updated), but you can always search for tutorials online as well.

However, even though the settings change frequently it’s important to know that:

You control who sees your posts. You can limit who sees your posts to specific people, or groups of people, just by creating lists or blocking individuals. For example, although I am friends with former students, they can only see what I post on my wall – not what my friends post. This is a simple way to limit who can see what.

You control how searchable your Facebook profile is – many parents (and students) have their profiles set to be searchable by Google, but don’t realize they do. The easiest way to check is to log out of all of your various accounts, and then search your own name on Google. If you see your FB profile as a result, click to see if you can actually see your profile (and how much you can see). All of these settings are customizable.

You always have the ability to delete posts and comments from your own wall. If someone posts something you don’t like, you can delete it. As you mouse over the comment or wall post, an “x” will appear in the right hand corner of that space. When you click on the “x”, you’ll have the option to delete (or just hide) that post. You can always control what appears on your wall.

Facebook has started adding new privacy controls for tagging. Now you can choose to have all photos and comments that you are tagged in “moderated” – meaning you have to approve them before they appear on your wall. This is a great way to stay more informed and aware of what’s being posted about you.

Overall, these settings can be complicated and confusing, but it’s worth checking back and keeping them updated. Even though this can be challenging, it’s worth having a FB profile for a few key reasons:

Most of your children are on FB. If you are planning to talk to them about how they share and what they share, it helps to have an idea of how it works.

If you are not in control of your online presence, someone else will be. This doesn’t mean you have to be constantly updating your profile or checking up on your friends, but it does mean you want to be the one who owns the FB account with your name. And, ideally, you want to see the things you share, the things that positively reflect you, when you Google your name. This is an essential part of having a positive online presence.

There are lots of great opportunities for connections, sharing and networking that tools like Facebook make even easier. You never know what opportunities or potentially important information you’ll be able to find by leveraging your network. This is an increasingly important skill in our digital world, and one that we are teaching the students as well.

Hopefully this session was an opportunity to explore the potential of social networking tools like Facebook. There are many more available, so we’ll be coming back to this topic again in the future.

Our next session will be Wednesday, 2 May from 9:15 – 10:15 in the Loft. Our topic will be Summer Fun with Technology! This will be our last Parent Technology & Literacy Coffee Morning session for this school year. We’ll explore fun and collaborative tools like VoiceThread, GarageBand, blogging, and more to find ways to help your child continue to develop his or her technology skills this summer – and to share the fun you’re having with your family and friends. Hope to see you there!


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