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Facebook – The mother of all social networks

3 minutes reading time
11-17 years
Social Media
Tool description
© photothek.net

The best-known and first globally significant network no longer has the same significance for children and young people as it probably does for you as parents. Nevertheless, you should know the most important things about Facebook.

In a nutshell:

  • largest social network worldwide
  • free of charge after registration
  • via browser or as app – also as lite version with lower data consumption
  • Age rating: 13 years
  • problematic: extensive data collection and various communication risks (such as hate speech and cybergrooming)

What is Facebook?

Over 2 billion people around the world use Facebook every month (as of 2022). Each user is logged in with their own profile and can thus network with others, e.g. through Facebook friendships. It is possible to share and respond to personal messages, stories, photos, videos and live videos, links and status updates with other users via their own timeline or in groups. Users can link to each other in posts, e.g. on photos or in comments. Another popular feature is “liking” pages and people you like, such as stars, celebrities, or news portals. Via the newsfeed, you then receive the latest posts from Facebook friends and liked pages. Another function is the creation of videos that are directly shown live. Via the Facebook Messenger linked to your own profile Facebook Messenger personal messages can be written or group chats can be set up.

What fascinates young people about the offer?

Children and young people hardly use Facebook as a platform anymore, because their parents and other adults also hang out here. Facebook is more interesting for older young people to network with each other on certain topics and interests and to find out what “old” friends are doing. The establishment of groups is particularly helpful for this purpose. Otherwise, other offers from Meta (the company behind Facebook) are used, such as WhatsApp or Instagram .

What is problematic about the offer?

Precisely because Facebook offers so many possibilities, numerous problems can also arise. It is not only young people who can come into contact with depictions of violence or “fake news“. When communicating with friends or strangers, there is a risk of cyberbullying, unwanted contact from strangers, hate speech, giving out too much personal information, and more.

What does the provider think?

Facebook belongs to the Meta group, just like WhatsApp , Instagram and the Facebook Messenger. Through these popular offers, Meta has already attracted over 2.8 billion people around the world. Facebook’s community standards inform users about desired behaviors, existing rules, and undesirable content. For many of the challenges described above, there are reporting or blocking features as well as privacy settings. Facebook’s extensive help area supports making one’s own profile more secure. Facebook is also working on its algorithms so that more different content with different opinions will be displayed in the future.

What should parents pay attention to?

When registering, the age cannot be verified with certainty. This makes it all the more important that you always communicate with your child about his or her media use. Consider together if and when you want to allow logging into Facebook. Ask what he or she is interested in, and it’s best to look over the privacy policy and corresponding settings options together with your child before you complete the registration. Make it clear to your child that he or she is on a public social network. This means that in addition to perhaps a lot of positive events, funny postings, and the opportunity to meet friends, there is also problematic content. Your child should know that they can hide, report, and block this content as well as other users. More advice for parents on their children’s Facebook use is available here.

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