Facebook for Celebrity Kids

Last night over dinner I was asked by a prominent friend of mine if he should let his kids go on Facebook. At first, this may not appear to be such a dilemma, but when he told me why he was concerned, it was easy to understand his reasons for being so cautious.

It’s an interesting dilemma. Children should be allowed explore the world whoever they are. However, I can also see that if you are a celebrity or a billionaire, then you have a different set of concerns to us mere mortals. My advice was:

  • Encourage them to create an account
  • Discuss if they are also on other services such as MySpace, Bebo, etc
  • Really, really only accept friends they actually know
  • Learn about the privacy settings
  • Set the privacy settings to the maximum
  • Think very carefully about the picture you put on your profile

Encourage them to create an account

You wouldn’t want them to be cut off from the rest of their real world friends. If you exclude them from these places then you are socially inhibiting them. Remember kids wonder how we ever managed to arrange to have a life before we had instant messaging, social networks, etc.

Discuss if they are also on other services

Most adults are aware of Facebook. A lot of grown-ups are on Twitter too. Well I have some news for those who are not in the digital communications business: there are lots of other social networking websites that your kids could and probably will want to use. The same sets of principles apply to these places too.

Really, really only accept friends they actually know

We all have acquaintances. Facebook encourages one to rate oneself by how many people are our friends. This blurs the boundaries. Quite rightly I was asked at dinner for this piece of reputation management advice because of the risk of acquaintances not being friends in anyway.

I advised that the real discussion my high profile friend should have with his kids is what is a friend? Whose house do they go to? Who comes to their house? And lots of similar questions – these are are criteria for accepting people as friends for this group (and perhaps everybody else).    If you want to be a bit extreme then tell the kids not to accept any inbound request, but my view is that we’re establishing some rules about being streetwise, which frankly, everybody needs to be.   Establish this and remember because of their unique concerns it is not rude to unfriend people too.

Privacy Settings

For these Celeb kids I think that the privacy and profile settings should be set to only “friends”. It’s no fun if your friends can’t see your pictures, posts, etc, but at the risk of being boring I’ll repeat myself – only accept those people as friends who are really your friends.

These guys have very valid security concerns, so one thing that’s very important is to monitor what other people are saying about them. The notifications settings are a very useful for this on Facebook in particular. My advice was to make sure that every time my friend’s kids are tagged they get an alert. They may even want to explain to their friend that they don’t want to be tagged as they have unusual concerns about their privacy. You can also limit who sees your pictures in the settings, that should be thought about too.

And the picture

In the case of my friend he’s not as paranoid as Michael Jackson, putting blankets over his kids’ faces when appearing in public. But there is still a desire in this case to limit the kids’ exposure, so obviously you should use the privacy settings so that only friends can see your picture and your profile can’t be found in searches. My advice is to be cautious here too. All your friends can see your picture and whilst they know what you look like, why not remove the temptation to cut and paste.

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