Social networking sites like Facebook are just as popular (and addictive) with kids as they are for adults. While the official minimum age to set up a Facebook account is 13, there is nothing to stop a younger child from setting up an online profile. While it is relatively easy to control your child's internet activity if there is only one computer, many children can still access the internet on their mobile phones or laptops.
If you don’t use Facebook yourself, it’s important to realise that there is nothing wrong with social networking for your child and learning how to communicate on the internet is an important skill that your child will need throughout school, their career and their personal life.

The real dangers lie in sharing personal information, meeting strangers who contact them online and internet bullying. However, there is no need to panic as there are lots of ways you can ensure they are kept safe while using a social networking site. If you're still not happy you can always ban it completely.

Set Facebook ground rules
If you feel your child can be trusted enough not to ban Facebook completely, you can still set ground rules:
  • Get involved from the beginning
  • Help your child to set up your profile, ensure that the privacy settings are set to the highest. In Account settings, all the privacy options should be set to ‘friends only’. Remember, under no circumstances should your child’s profile be set to public.
  • Be an online "friend"
If you join your child as a friend on their profile, you can keep an eye on what they are up to and make sure they aren’t giving out private information, being bullied or getting up to no good while your away! Keep your profile low-key so as not to embarrass your child.

Posting online is forever
Make sure that your child understands that once they share a piece of information or a photo, regardless of their privacy settings, it will be forever available online. Once something is published to the internet, it is out of your control and can be used and copied over and over again. 

Preventing your child from accessing Facebook
If your child is too young or you just don’t want them on social networking sites unsupervised then you can block their access to Facebook completely with the right filtering software.

You can block certain websites completely or even just at particular times, for instance when your children are supposed to be doing their homework. If you are buying a new router, look for one that has 'Parental Control' as one of the features.