SALT LAKE CITY -- As the author of the book "I'm on Facebook — Now What?" Jesse Stay doesn't have many criticisms for the popular social media site. But he will criticize the site's lack of parental control. Kids that technically may be too young for the site can network with adults without anything stopping them.
"They can create fake accounts. They can go in and pretend they're over 13, which is what a lot of people do," Stay says.
Although many parents feel secure with letting their young children use social media, Stay says there are some dangers with allowing 12-year-olds to use sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. He says pre-teens and younger teens don't always have the experience to know when not to click to a link they see on these sites. He also believes teens are more easily tricked into giving away their usernames and passwords, leading to an eventual takeover of their account.
"The adults are more likely to understand not to click on a link than someone under 13," Stay says.
Stay has a teenage relative who unknowingly forwarded links to questionable sites to Facebook friends after the teen likely clicked on something they shouldn't have.
"I never click on them, but I'm pretty sure they [linked to] somewhere malicious," Stay explains. "Some of them had bad words in them or had porn-type content in them."
Stay says the best way to keep kids from getting into trouble on these sites is through web monitoring software or other parental control programs. Some Internet browsers come equipped with this type of thing.
"Windows Vista and Windows 7 natively provide tools that will allow you to specify time limits on when your children are using these tools and specify what sites they're able to visit," Stay says.
Topsoftwarereviews.net says there are other parental controls that are better geared to monitor social media sites. They recommend parents buy a program that comes with a keylogger so parents can get the usernames and passwords for their teen's Facebook and MySpace accounts. This feature also lets parents find any secret accounts their teen may be trying to hide.
Also, they recommend parents use programs that offer complete invisibility. Teens can sometimes work their way around monitoring software when they know they're being watched.