Facebook

Common Sense Media says

Social site connects friends, requires privacy.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

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

Search engines like Google turn up a few Facebook pages for topics like crime scene photos and a page that contains photos of allegedly dying/deceased people that any logged-in user can access.

Sex

Facebook users can post content (photos and language) with lots of sexual innuendo and more. If someone wants to, they can access a porn-star gift app, view several pages of Playboy, look up porn production companies, friend porn stars (expect explicit comments), and other sexually charged topics, but nudity isn't allowed, so most photos involve women in bikinis or lingerie.

Language

Forget about any filter -- teens (and their friends) can type in swear words and other language when posting status updates or commenting on photos. Also, oftentimes speech that teens find funny veers close to hate speech and cruelty.

Consumerism

Some ads encourage users to shop at online stores, join dating sites, and "like" various pages to get free samples or other offers. But potential buyer beware: "Like" or otherwise interact with a social ad, and 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. Users also can buy apps and premium items in free games using Facebook Credits, the site's virtual currency, which is earned through special promotions (taking surveys and applying for a credit card, for example) or can be purchased via credit card or PayPal (50 credits cost $5; 2,360 cost $200). Users also can connect with companies via brand pages.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Facebook's platform policies for developers/app creators include language about prohibiting 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). However, users can post alcohol references or photos on personal pages; some drug-related pages on legalizing marijuana and other topics also exist.

Privacy & safety

Users should check their privacy settings frequently; changes are common, so it's important to keep tabs on what is and isn't visible to others. Users can video chat or IM on the site with people they've friended; they can send emails to or receive messages from strangers. Also, for kids who are 13 to 17 (and admit it when they register), extra protections for timeline posts are no longer the default -- kids now can choose to share their timeline posts publicly with a few simple clicks. Some key areas to watch for privacy issues include:

  • Photos: Sharing photos is one of the most popular features on Facebook, but it's also a big area of concern for privacy. Profile-tag review allows you to approve or reject a photo tag before it becomes visible in your timeline. Anyone still can tag a photo with your name, but, if you choose to use this feature, you can prevent unwanted photos from appearing in your timeline. Find out what you need to know about facial recognition.
  • Apps: With the site's "frictionless sharing" apps, when you authorize an app once, it will share your habits (for example, what news story you've read or what songs you're listening to on Spotify) without asking again. Also, some of these apps won't allow you to use them unless you agree to sharing. How much and what is shared and how much control you have over it will vary depending on the app. It's possible to hide the app activity from your timeline and/or alter your settings to control who sees the info; this requires taking several steps in your privacy settings.
  • Video: Users can video chat on Facebook. Read our video-chatting tips.
  • Places: This location-sharing tool can announce a teen's location to Facebook friends.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that teens must be diligent about setting privacy controls on Facebook. Every time Facebook updates its features, users must check settings to confirm what information they're sharing and what they're keeping private. "Frictionless sharing" apps -- which allow users to share without having to take action -- bring additional privacy concerns. The Facebook timeline shows every activity going back to a user's first post. It's like a permanent record, but the good news is that you can use it to delete posts you really don't want there anymore or change a post's privacy setting for it to be viewable only by yourself.

Privacy shortcuts in the upper-right-hand corner of the page allow you to remove personal information like your gender or birthday, and you can block search engines from showing a direct link to your timeline. To completely remove previous posts from searches, you'll need to review your Activity Log to see a list of all your Facebook activity and review or edit the privacy setting for each item. After you've made privacy updates, you can double-check your changes by clicking View As, which will show you what your timeline looks like to a specific friend or to the public.

Facebook's most recent changes allow kids 13 to 17 to share timeline posts publicly rather than only with friends (or friends-of-friends). The first time kids choose to post publicly, a pop-up window will appear, reminding them that even strangers may see their posts and that they might end up getting messages from people they don't know. From that point forward, when kids post, they'll see a shorter pop-up reminder, simply letting them know that they're posting publicly (but they won't get any privacy or safety reminders). However, kids' default privacy settings are now set to Friends Only -- until they decide they want to share more widely.

Other recent changes include the Graph Search, a super-charged search tool that mines Facebook's wealth of user data. From the search bar on the top left of the page, you can explore general info like "nearby restaurants" and "pages about news" or dig for more personal tidbits such as "music my friends like" and "people who like dogs and live in San Francisco." With such easy access to user data, it's important to recheck your privacy settings. For each section of your timeline (for example, About, Likes, Music, and Groups), click the pencil icon in the top right of the section box to review privacy settings and modify who can see (and search for) the info. The Graph Search bar also doubles as a Web search powered by Bing. Search results have "strict" filtering for users age 13 to 17 so long as they have their true ages listed on their Facebook accounts.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • global awareness

Skills

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • multiple forms of expression

Collaboration

  • respecting other viewpoints

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

One of the most addictive sites on the Internet. Kids (and grown-ups) can spend many hours virtually socializing on this granddaddy of social media sites.

Learning Approach

Teens can practice communication skills by posting and commenting, and a cascade of prompts teases out quirky forms of self-expression. By setting up privacy controls, teens also can learn responsible social networking.

Support

Teens won't easily find direct guidance or tips on responsible social networking; more likely they'll learn through experience. Though Facebook offers a range of privacy controls, figuring out the options can be tricky.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Social Studies

  • global awareness

Skills

Communication

  • conveying messages effectively
  • multiple forms of expression

Collaboration

  • respecting other viewpoints

Responsibility & Ethics

  • following codes of conduct
  • making wise decisions
  • respect for others

Tech Skills

  • social media

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. Watch out, though: Teens might get sucked into a vortex of mundane messages.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Brereton

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

FACEBOOK is a popular social-networking site. Users connect with people of their choosing -- either privately or publicly -- with whom they can then communicate through the platform and who then can see various aspects of what they post. Users also can play games, watch videos, decorate their pages, post and tag photos, share favorite product information, \"like\" favorite celebrities and social causes, and more. There are options to adjust privacy settings, but they're difficult to find and tricky to set.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Facebook offers registered users a fun way to keep in almost constant contact with friends, family, and acquaintances -- and every update adds another reason for heavy users to make Facebook an essential part of their lives. Privacy experts warn about the dangers of oversharing and how it can compromise teens' safety and reputation, making strict privacy settings, restraint, and wise use of the "remove" button critical.

Timeline provides a complete list of photos you've posted, posts you've made, and other activity throughout your entire history on Facebook (or longer if you go back to fill in your pre-Facebook years with photos). Graph Search makes navigating the mountain of user data on Facebook a breeze. However, though Graph Search can boost Facebook's potential as a fun and valuable resource for networking and pursuing new interests, it also can make users who are less savvy about their own privacy settings more vulnerable to accidental oversharing. Having this much information readily available for viewing may appeal to some users, but others will want to use their privacy settings carefully to remove some content from view. If kids do choose to share publicly, they'll get a pop-up reminder explaining that what they're about to post will be available for everyone to see. However, this pop-up reminder is very easy for kids to click past.

The site's "frictionless sharing" apps bring another set of privacy concerns. It's important to note that users aren't required to use these types of apps, but, if they choose to, they're agreeing to give up some aspects of their privacy -- not just to their friends, subscribers, and the public but also to advertisers.

Fortunately, Facebook continues to provide users with numerous options for privacy settings. For example, you can opt to approve photo and other tags before they're posted to your timeline and control who sees past posts if you adjust your privacy settings accordingly. You also can opt to hide types of activity -- such as people you friend -- and remove photos from your timeline. However, making your profile less public may require you to adjust several default settings.

Families can talk 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

Genre:Social Networking
Pricing structure:Free

This review of Facebook was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous July 5, 2010
AGE
12
QUALITY
 

Good, but not perfect

Besides the fact that they keep trying to expose our walls to the world, it's still an amazing way to connect with friends and family, and has taken over Myspace as the leading edge of the social networking revolution.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Teen, 13 years old Written byilenee. February 10, 2011
AGE
14
QUALITY
 

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 spend on the computer. my friend has a facebook, and its insane how long she spends on there. its like her life is on facebook. i HAD one i DELETED it because i was addicted, and it really wasted my time. i got BULLIED on there, and my account kept getting hacked (i didn't share my password with n e one!) just recently, some kids at my school were bullying my other friend and making rude comments and pages that made her sad.. i don't think any child should go through that. i really think that you should think twice before letting kids on there.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 12 years old March 26, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
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! You should know the basics of online safety, though - such as not accepting friend requests from people you do not know. If you know that much, I think you can be on Facebook. But just remember: It's much easier to be mean online than in person. Don't do or say anything online you wouldn't say in person!
What other families should know
Too much consumerism
Great messages
Safety and privacy concerns
Kid, 11 years old October 31, 2009
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

You need to read this as it involves what you need to know

Safety is and not a problem. You can leash out information but as long as you keep only friends you know outside of the computer and block everyone else, it's fine. It does have an age limit of I think 14 but many people fake their age. Do not be fooled by celebritys, they are normal people pretending to be Miley Cyrus and Nick Jonas. They are posers. It is rarely you will find the real person. I say its safe for 11 and over but their not even meant to have an account so I would leave it until they are old enough to have an account. Once they are older enough to have one, just leave another couple of years until you are sure the responsible enough to have an account. Keep double checking their friends and information though as you never know who they could add. Keep them under your thumbs!
What other families should know
Safety and privacy concerns

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