Steamboat parents discuss how to monitor children’s social media behavior
January 7, 2011
Steamboat Springs — Monique Lingle joked Wednesday that her daughter wouldn't be her friend on Facebook. She said her daughter ignored her husband's friend request, too.
Lingle, co-chairwoman of the Steamboat Springs High School Parent Information Committee, made the comment during the group's monthly meeting. She and the parents in attendance were given a presentation about social networking from high school counselor Shelby DeWolfe and Steamboat Springs Police Department School Resource Officer Josh Carrell.
Joining Facebook was a way Lingle and the other parents in attendance could not only monitor some of their children's online activity, but gain some understanding to help them manage it. Lingle said she and Susan McIntosh requested the presentation to give parents information about social networking.
"It's not something we dealt with as young people, but we are dealing with as parents," she said.
Lingle added that with the access today's youth have to technology and social networking, it's important for parents to understand what's going on to help their children understand what information is appropriate to share online.
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DeWolfe acknowledged that although there are positives to social networking sites such as Facebook — staying connected to family and friends, championing a cause, joining groups or marketing talents — there also can be pitfalls. She said college recruiters and employers more frequently are checking Facebook pages of prospective students and employees.
Carrell, who gives presentations about social networking in high school health classes about such topics as decisions students make and legal ramifications of their actions online, said he warns students about what they post on sites such as Facebook.
He advised parents to monitor their children's online activity by knowing their usernames and passwords to e-mail and social networking accounts.
Carrell also told them that Facebook owns and has access to the information their children put on the site. Carrell said he tells students to be careful what they put online because even if they delete it later, it still may be there.
"If you wouldn't be proud to have your parents see it, a future employer or college recruiter, don't put it on there," he said after the meeting.
Senior Jenna Peters said Thursday that her parents have talked to her about what's appropriate for her Facebook profile but don't regularly monitor its content. Peters said she's been told that colleges and employers monitor Facebook.
"I don't think your parents need your info to monitor" Facebook, she said. "Depending on your age, it should be up to you. I'm a senior, so I should know what I should and shouldn't be doing. It's my decision what goes on there."
Lingle said understanding social networking, teaching children what's appropriate and monitoring activity is difficult for parents.
"It's really hard to get them to understand the consequences of their actions," she said. "They have all this access, but not the capacity to manage it. It's tough. I think the biggest takeaway is to stay tuned, stay in touch, stay dialed in with your kids."