Mercy Ndegwa Facebook www,businesstoday.co.ke
Mtoto News Founder Jennifer Kaberi (left), Head of Public Policy, East Africa region at Facebook Mercy Ndegwa, Missing Child KE Founder Maryanne Munyendo and Communications Manager Facebook Janet Kemboi explore safety features for kids. [ Photo / Business Today ]

We want everyone to feel safe from bullying, harassment, scams, inappropriate content and other cyber dangers when using Facebook and its family of apps.

We work with external experts, including a Safety Advisory Board, and gather feedback from our community to develop policies, tools and resources to keep users safe.

Offline rules apply online

We’ve designed many of our features to remind young people to be aware of who they’re sharing information with, to only accept friend requests from people they know, and to know how to protect themselves online. 

Parents also have a critical role to play in educating teenagers about online safety. Here are a few tips on engaging with youth and discussions their online safety.

1. Under 13s are not allowed on Facebook or Instagram. Facebook and Instagram require everyone to be 13 years old before they can create an account (in some countries, this age limit may be higher depending on local laws), and we encourage parents to have these conversations with their teens

2. Let your teenager know that the same rules apply online as offline. Your teenager can avoid most potential dangers and concerns online by simply stopping to think before they submit a post or accepting a friend request. Teach them to think before they engage with strangers online.

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3. Engage early. Research shows that many children as young as six have access to smartphones or tablets. Talk to them about technology, before they are on social media.

4. Help them to check and manage their privacy settings. Once your teen has set up a social media account, they can use Facebook privacy settings to control who can friend them, who can see their posts, and if they share details such as their location by default.

This can help them to control their exposure to bullying, harassment and other potential concerns.

5. Show them the tools they can use to filter content and people from their feeds. Instagram offers many flexible tools to keep teens safe online – keep them informed about the options. We’ve rolled out keyword filtering, bullying filtering and sensitivity screens, for example.

People can also restrict unwanted interactions on their profiles and easily report accounts, comments and posts for bullying.

6. Encourage them to report inappropriate content. Facebook has reporting tools that enable to report any content that is inappropriate or makes them uncomfortable. Facebook has a dedicated team of content reviewers around the world who are available 24/7 to review and take action on reported content.

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About the Author

Mercy Ndegwa is the Head of Public Policy, East Africa region at Facebook.

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