Facebook. It’s all the rage right now. From grade school to grandparents, it’s importance to the internet and keeping in touch with friends cannot be understated.
Despite what you’ve heard, Facebook can be a safe, fun place to hang out and catch up. The bad stories are rampant, from teens posting inappropriate pictures to your identity and credit card number being stolen. Before we go any further, I will say that this can happen. But with a little effort on your part it can be a safe, rewarding experience that can bring old friends back together and open up communication like you’ve never seen before.
I’ve been on Facebook for almost two years now. In this time I’ve made a couple of mistakes (thank goodness not earth-shattering), but once I figured out a few simple things, I have reconnected with family that I haven’t seen in 30 years, and friends going back as far as kindergarten. I have reconnected with teachers, the aforementioned kindergarten teacher, my 5th grade teacher who is still teaching, and several high school favorite teachers.
How do you keep yourself safe on Facebook? Learn the Privacy Settings under the Account menu. Set all the options to “Friends Only.” Outsiders will not be able to access your photos, your profile, or any information about you outside of your name.
Do not post any personal information about yourself. I see friends posting their phone number, their home address, and their main email address. This is just asking for trouble. I have a special email account I use for Facebook only. You can get a free disposable email address at Google by clicking on Gmail, and I recommend it. You can always give your real email privately.
The games on Facebook look fun! Farmville, Cafe World, Family Feud, Poker, Bingo – what could go wrong? Plenty. When you authorize one of the games (called “apps,” short for applications) you are giving it permission to access your profile, and share that information with others outside your friends list. Some apps will spam your friends, telling them about your new high score, or what you’re doing in Yoville. This is annoying. Stay away from the apps.
Watch your children closely. Family computers must be in public areas. Know their accounts and passwords and check up every now and then. This goes for general computer use as well.
Finally, never “friend” anyone (accept as a friend) whom you do not personally know. Your friends will send you suggestions of people who you should be friends with. However, if you don’t know them, don’t friend them.
Facebook is a wonderful tool, used as it was originally intended. Connect with your friends. Be secure and safe when you do.
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