Parents: how far should you go in monitoring your child's Facebook account?

Chances are if you have a teen, he or she likely spends considerable time on Facebook and other social media. Wondering how to best monitor their usage without being a hovering parent? A new expert statement released on Wednesday offers some practical advice.

Chuck Smith, professor emeritus of family studies and human services at Kansas State University's College of Human Ecology of in the US, says the increased usage of Facebook by children has sparked questions of how to prevent cyber-bullying and protect personal privacy. But for parents, he suggests, it's all about finding a middle ground -- protecting your children while still allowing them freedom to "make their own mistakes."

"Facebook is a tool that could be used for good or bad," Smith said. "It's up to parents to help their children understand how to use it well and be vigilant about misuse."

To prevent online bullying or misuse of social media, Smith advises that parents retain essential control of your child's Facebook account -- meaning you need the password. That way, you can read all the posts and ensure security settings are in place to protect your child from online predators.

If your child is under 16 years old, keep the computer in a common area in the home, not his or her bedroom.

"For parents, vigilance changes with the child's age, but you still have to be responsible."

But at the same time, he advises that parents give their kids a reasonable amount of freedom and not be too restrictive. "The younger generation is very much an online generation," he says. "We have to be realistic and teach them about the danger and responsibility of posting online and considering what they might say and how they might react," adding, "parents who are overly restrictive might lose their opportunity."

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