Facebook releases guidebook to help teens safely navigate the online world

It seems that every day we hear stories of sexting, cyberbullying and teens otherwise behaving badly in the digital world. But for the most part, young Facebook users know how to navigate the online world responsibly, if not productively. We’re seeing, for the first time, a generation born into an age of social media, with all its perks, pitfalls and enough power to merit a discussion about how to use it.

Facebook today released a handbook for mentors to spark that cross-generational conversation. “Facebook for Educators and Community Leaders Guide,” aims to help adults become supportive partners to teens and encourage them to make smart decisions in cyberspace.

The Facebook safety team posted an announcement in a blog this morning:

Today’s teens were born into a digital world. They are connecting, sharing and learning through the latest advances in technology. This is creating a vibrant world full of interactivity and learning, where young people make new things and connect in ways that enrich their lives in the classroom and in their communities.

Studies show that teens are generally mindful of how to conduct themselves on social media. Some 60 percent set their Facebook profile to private, 89 percent say the privacy settings are easy to figure out and most say they’re aware of the impact their online reputation can have in the real world, according to the guide.

Still, the adults in their lives – parents, educators and other mentors – can help them better understand safety, privacy, literacy and responsible citizenship. Especially, the safety team notes, regarding Facebook.

That means that they need to understand the digital world – and Facebook, in particular.

The guide focuses on the following points:

Organizations that helped Facebook cook up the guide include Family Online Safety Institute, WiredSafety, ConnectSafely.org, the Girl Scouts of Northern California , the PACER Center , Edutopia, the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops  and Cartoon Network’s Stop Bullying: Speak Up initiative . Parenting expert and author of “Masterminds and Wingmen” chipped in, too, offering tips for adults on how to talk to teens about what they’re up to online. check out her Facebook Story published today.

Several community leaders gave the guide their blessing, calling it a valuable resource. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, who’s also president of the National Association of Attorneys General, says the e-book can help adults bridge the gap and spark a discussion with youth:

Government and responsible corporate citizens alike have an interest in teens being smart and safe when using social media. But it is fundamental that parents understand social media and their teen’s use of social media and that they help their teens make safe and informed choices. The Facebook for Educators & Community Leaders Guide is a guide to help parents, teachers, and community leaders do just that.

Read the guide in its entirety right here.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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