Teens and Facebook. Should Independent Baptist teens be allowed to have a Facebook page? Should they be on Social Media? How much should parents be concerned about a teens Facebook account? Should parents be monitoring their teens Facebook account or is that an “invasion of privacy”?
All valid questions! Let me try to address some of them!
First I would like to say that if your pastor preaches against Facebook and social media, you should obey your pastor. He is God’s leader for you that you have chosen by being a member of His church. If he preaches against Facebook, then as a member of his church, you should not have Facebook nor allow your teens to have Facebook!
For those whose pastors are silent on the matter or maybe even actively promote it, as a parent you need to make a decision for your individual teenager if having a Facebook account is a wise decision or not! I think that if done correctly and monitored appropriately, Facebook is simply another communication tool like a cell phone.
Should Independent Baptist teens be allowed to have a Facebook page? I think yes. Since 94% of teens are already on Facebook, I think that by allowing our teens to have an active presence on Facebook, if done correctly, it can be a positive tool for updating teens on teen activities, encouraging border-line teens to attend activities when they see that all their friends are going, and even a potential evangelism tool! Facebook is much more than just a place to hang out and chat with friends. The youth pastor can post updates and reminders about teen activities. Activities that are cancelled due to weather or other reasons can be communicated quickly. Invitations to last minute events can be communicated instantly to the entire youth group! Facebook can be an extension of your church community… virtually. Teens love to see pictures of themselves at the youth events. By updating photos of the events to the official youth group Facebook fan page, your teens can comment and share the pictures and the fun can continue!
How much should parents be concerned about a teens Facebook account? Should parents be monitoring their teens Facebook account or is that an “invasion of privacy”? I think parents should definitely be concerned about their teens Facebook account and should monitor it weekly. As far as an “invasion of privacy”… as long as your teen is living under your roof… they don’t get any “privacy”! As parents we are responsible for our teens and if we allow them to have a private world we do not know about, then we are telling them… “that area of your life is not that important to me.” Our teens need boundaries and parental involvement. They crave it. It is the world that tells Christian parents that we should let them “live their own lives” and “make their own mistakes”. That is not the correct attitude of a Christian parent!
So what are some of the things parents absolutely must be doing if they allow their teens to have a Facebook account?
1. Parents must have their own Facebook account and friend their teen on Facebook. As a Christian parent, not understanding technology is not a reason (excuse) for not having a Facebook account. I can’t tell you how many parents I have talked to that tell me that their kids have a Facebook account but they don’t know how it works or understand it. In about 20-30 minutes your teenager can get you setup and explain to you everything you need to know!
2. Parents must monitor the account. It is not enough to simply “friend” your teen on Facebook and expect to see all of the things they are posting and all of their interactions. There are many ways on Facebook for your teen to set their privacy settings that it will actually restrict what the parents can view. It is important to login to your teens Facebook account and look at their wall to see everything that is posted. Check their photos. Check their mobile uploads. Check their messages. Check who they have friended and check their newsfeed to see what their friends are posting also. Before allowing your teen to have a Facebook account, simply let them know that the account is a privilege that can be revoked. Let them know that you will be logging in once a week or once a month or so to check everything that is posted to make sure it is appropriate. Talk about what is appropriate and what is not!
3. Unfriend bad influences immediately. One of the most important responsibilities as a parent is to monitor the influences of our children. We need to make sure that everything they listen to, everything they watch, everything they read, all complement our teachings and the Bible and don’t drive them away from the things of God. Your teenager is not in a position to influence worldly teens into doing right. Let that be the job of the youth pastor! Your job is to protect your teen so if they have a friend on Facebook that you feel is a bad influence, cut them off!
4. Teach internet safety. Teach your teen that they should not be posting information about where they will be going on a public Facebook profile or page but rather, right before leaving they can “check in” on Foursquare and publish to their Facebook page or Instagram photos to their Facebook page. They need to understand that even adults do this. We certainly would not want to let people know that our house is empty and unprotected while we are away on vacation! It is just common sense to be careful about when you are posting certain types of content.
5. Teach your teen that what gets posted on Facebook…. can get published on a billboard! Teach your teen to always be aware that anything they post on Facebook can be taken and copied and re-published anywhere. They should never say or post anything that they would not want published on a billboard right in front of their school or church for the whole world to see. Even some innocent things can be taken out of context so you need to make sure that they are aware of the right and wrong way of saying things. Teach them that tone is not always apparent in posts and that there is no “sarcasm” smiley face! If they post something sarcastic or “snarky” it could be interpreted incorrectly by someone else.
What tips do you have? How do you as a parent monitor your teens Facebook activities? Let me know by leaving a comment below!