Facebook

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Facebook Website Poster Image
Huge social site connects, serves ads; check settings.
Popular with kids

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 179 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 552 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational value

Kids 13 and older can learn how to communicate with each other online, keep in touch with friends, and express themselves. Teens also can learn basic information about nonprofit organizations and businesses since many of them have pages. Another plus: Facebook can help teens understand social networking, a skill that will put them in good stead for the future. Though, for the most part, there isn't much explicit educational material, kids and parents can use Facebook to practice digital citizenship and safely explore what it has to offer.

Positive messages

Users can click on a thumbs-up icon to "like" comments or pages. User-submitted content runs the gamut of uplifting to disturbing. As Facebook has expanded, it has managed to stay fairly benign, but predatory and unsavory users do exist.

Violence

User-created pages for topics such as crime-scene photos and photos of allegedly dying/deceased people exist, but the site itself doesn't generate violent content. Site actively monitoring streamed/posted videos after recent rash of shocking violent content on site.

Sex

Users can post content (photos and language) with lots of sexual innuendo and more, but nudity isn't allowed, so most "naked" photos involve women in bikinis or lingerie. All sexual content is user-generated, though some ads contain models in underwear.

Language

Users frequently swear and sometimes bully each other, but there's no profanity inherent to the site itself.

Consumerism

Ads encourage users to shop at online stores, join dating sites, and "like" various pages to get free samples or other offers, but be aware that your action could be shown alongside the company's message -- and your profile may appear, too. Advertisers also use information about what you and your friends like to determine which ads you'll see when you're on the site.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Prohibits content that promotes the sale of tobacco, firearms, or alcohol-related content (unless they've set parameters to prevent users who are under 21 from seeing the content). Users can post alcohol references or photos on personal pages; some drug-related pages on legalizing marijuana and other topics also exist.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Facebook is a popular social-networking site (and app) where users connect with people of their choosing -- either privately or publicly -- and post pictures, text, or videos. Users also can play games, watch videos, decorate their pages, post and tag photos, share favorite product information, "like" favorite celebrities and social causes, live-stream video with Facebook Live, connect with goods and services, and live-chat via Messenger, an app that is integrated with Facebook. Both app and website versions of this title are available; our review references key points relevant to both. Though the app itself doesn't generate iffy content (beyond underwear ads), users create plenty, so the content in a teen's feed is dependent on friends, and they can search for racy stuff -- and find it. Because of an outbreak of violent videos and streams posted on the site, Facebook has announced new monitoring of inappropriate material to prevent this footage from going viral on user's feeds. On the Safety page parents can access directions about setting up a secure account, read about how to prevent online bullying, and get parenting tips around helping kids use social media responsibly. On the Watch tab, users can watch all kinds of content (viral videos, sports, news, comedy and more); some is Facebook-created and some produced by major media companies. Also, users can create two-question polls for their friends that can include pictures and GIFs. Because the privacy settings are layered and change often, it's important for users to check their settings and make sure they are only sharing with their intended audience. Consult the privacy policy regularly to confirm the types of information collected and shared; it includes personal information being shared with advertisers.

User Reviews

Adult Written bydaveluv21 April 9, 2008

An excellent site but use with caution

Facebook is a good site for keeping in contact with friends, there's lots of quizzes to do and games to play but some profiles may contain violent or distu...
Adult Written byKira123 June 1, 2010

Facebook for Teens

well for those who worry about it watch what your kids do. Yea there are certain ages that should not be allowed cause they bring school drama home and then fig...
Teen, 13 years old Written byilenee. February 10, 2011

not a great idea.

I think that if you let your kids have a facebook, thats great and stuff, but you also have to think about the privacy and how much time they're going to s...
Kid, 12 years old March 26, 2011
I have Facebook - as do a lot of my friends. I understand why they have the set age of 13, but if you're 12 or even 11 for that matter, Facebook is fine! Y...

What's it about?

To sign up for FACEBOOK, you need to be at least 13 and have a valid email address. Once you have an account, you can "friend" other users whose posts will appear on your Timeline. Through the settings, you can choose to have your account accessible to everyone, only to friends, or a custom group. You can also select what personal information is shared with others, choose whether your profile is available via a Web search, and delete posts from your Activity Log. "Liking" a product or celebrity profile will make related posts appear on your Timeline -- and will fuel targeted advertising. Because others can "tag" you in their posts, it's possible to adjust settings around being tagged and approving those posts on your own Timeline. Parents can use tagging to create a Scrapbook of their kids' photos, and users can create secret groups that are undiscoverable without an invitation. In addition to posting, users can use Facebook's Messenger app -- which is integrated into Facebook -- to chat with others. It's also possible to live-stream video and watch others' live streams. As of 2017 users can choose to only share a live stream with friends or use "Live With" which allows two users to stream jointly from two different accounts using a picture-in-picture format. In addition to social connection, users can access games, concert ticket, and on-demand services, like Uber. Facebook's personal assistant, "M"  -- similar to Siri or Cortana but with some human oversight -- is in beta testing as of 2016 and is designed to make recommendations, schedule services, and help make purchases.

Is it any good?

As one of the biggest and most enduring social networks, it has many elements that are attractive to users, but it's important to know the ins and outs before your teen starts posting. Though lots of teens are now only using Facebook as one of many methods of communicating, it's still relevant, continues to innovate, and keeps adding more features. In fact, it's hard to keep up with its acquisitions and new capabilities, so it's a good idea to check settings periodically and have an account of your own to stay on top of things. As always, posting publicly, oversharing, and cyberbullying are concerns with social media, and with the addition of live-streaming in 2016, it's even more important to talk to teens about what's appropriate to share. This is even more relevant with the recent announcement of live monitoring of violent content by Facebook to cut down on the amount of murders and suicide videos that have been posted to feeds since live streams were implemented. Since so many parents use Facebook, it's also worth thinking about the digital footprint you're creating for your kid; in fact, many kids don't want endless pictures and videos of themselves shared with the world, so be sensitive to the information trail you're creating for your kid.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how to responsibly use social-networking sites -- and how to react if someone (even a good friend) posts something inappropriate on your Timeline. (Parents should get up to speed on Facebook so they have a sense of what kids are doing on it.)

  • Discuss privacy settings. Because Facebook makes frequent changes, it's a good idea to sit down with your teen for periodic profile reviews. Pay close attention to the privacy settings and which posts, photos, and personal information are visible and to whom.

Website details

For kids who love hanging out online

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