Facebook reveals new set of safety and family tools

19 Apr 2011

In the wake of a European report that revealed 38pc of children aged 9-12 are using social networks, Facebook has unveiled a new set of safety resources and tools, including a redesigned Family Safety Centre.

Facebook has introduced a number of key resources, including a new redesigned Family Safety Centre with useful articles for parents and teens and videos on safety and privacy.

In the coming weeks, Facebook will also be providing a free, downloadable guide for teachers, written by safety experts Linda Fogg Phillips, B.J. Fogg and Derek Baird.

Facebook recently unveiled a new social reporting tool that allows people to notify a friend, in addition to Facebook’s user operations team, when they see something they don’t like.

“Safety and child psychology experts tell us that online issues are frequently a reflection of what is happening offline,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “By encouraging people to seek help from friends in the offline world, we hope that many of these situations can be resolved face to face.

“The impact has been encouraging, and we’re now expanding social reporting to other major sections of Facebook, including Profiles, Pages and Groups, having trialed it on wall posts and photos in recent weeks.”

Facebook has also launched a YouTube Safety Channel, including a collection of internet safety videos all in one place.

Kids and social networks

In Ireland, 35pc of children aged 9-12 use social networks in spite of age limitations.

The study, carried out by the London School of Economics for the European Commission, surveyed 25,000 young people aged 9-16 across the EU. The research revealed that 21pc of 9-to-12-year-olds surveyed had a Facebook profile in Ireland.

This is in spite of Facebook’s recommendations that members should be aged 13 and older.

A Facebook spokesperson responded to the study, urging educators and parents to help children and teenagers stay safe online.

“Recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don’t circumvent a system or lie about their age,” said the spokesperson.

“We appreciate the attention that these reports and other experts are giving this matter and believe this will provide an opportunity for parents, teachers, safety advocates and internet services to focus on this area, with the ultimate goal of keeping young people of all ages safe online.

“We agree with safety experts that communication between parents/guardians and kids about their use of the internet is vital. We believe that services such as Facebook have a role to play in encouraging this: the recent announcements around social reporting and our safety centre are testimonies to our ongoing efforts in ensuring we are giving detailed and helpful advice to help support these conversations.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years