Facebook for Parents: Understanding Control

Our kids use of social media as a way to connect with their friends, make new friends and unfortunately connect with others who are neither their friends nor need ever to be. For parents, trying to keep up with all the different social media platforms can be frustrating and difficult to say the least. But that doesn’t mean that as a parent we cant try to do our best to understand the way some of the networking sites work in order to help teach our kids the skills they need to safely and responsibly take part in online interactions.

Here I am going to have a closer look at Facebook and how much control our children and indeed ourselves, have over the content that is displayed. There are many different sites kids are using and I will look at some of those sites in future posts.  Many have different rules about who sees what content, whether there are friends or followers, private or public sharing and how much control the account owner has over what is displayed.

In this post I am looking only at Facebook and some of the settings surrounding the account holders control.


  • Friends are invited by the person holding the account and they are not considered a ‘friend’ until that person has accepted their request. Once they accept they have access to seeing what is on their ‘Wall’.
  • Friends do not see if you have rejected their friend request or deleted it or if you have selected “not now” in order to decide later.  They will only know that you havn’t accepted.
  •  Each status update you put up can be seen by your friends unless you specifically  change settings to prevent certain people seeing them.


  • Just being someones friend does not guarantee that you see everything they put up. They can create lists and block certain people from seeing individual updates
  • By default anyone can request to be your friend.You can also alter who is allowed to ask for a friend request via your privacy setting under “how you connect”.  You can also alter here who sends you Facebook messages and who can look you up via the email address you provided.

Information Control

  •  Every person with an account has Public Information. Anyone can see this Public Information regardless of any other privacy settings you have up.

This information that is visible to everyone includes

  • Name
  • Profile Picture
  • Gender
  • Where they live
  • Where they are from

(all of this information does not have to be entered, but if it is, it is seen by everyone regardless of audience selection for other updates)

Who can see who your friends are?

By default everyone can see who your friends are in the friends section of your timeline.  You can change this by going to ‘Friends’ under your cover photo, click edit and choose the audience selector.

Visibility of posts:

Anytime you put something on as an update you have the ability to select your audience. By using the audience selector you can choose whether it is visible to:

  • Friends:  which includes your own friends plus the friends of anyone you tagged.
  • Public: obviously means anyone can see
  • Custom: which allows you to include specific groups you have made

Note: when you post to another persons timeline that person controls what audience can view that post.

Seeing photos:

Cover photo:  always public

Individual albums: depends on audience selector you chose for each album

If you are tagged in a photo the person who posted the photo controls who sees it. You cannot remove the photo from Facebook but you can remove the tag that associates you with that photo. Once you remove the tag it won’t turn up in your timeline.


The privacy settings for social networking sites can be messy and indeed have been known to change with little warning. Whilst it is certainly a good idea to use them, it is an even better idea to think twice about what you are posting and who could potentially see it should your settings not be secure. But it is certainly essential to have an understanding of exactly who is seeing the information you put online and to be aware of all the settings for the sites you use and those that your children are using. By doing so we have a much greater chance of building on a whole range of skills kids will need to participate in life online.





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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. BossyMummy

    Great info. I really hope I can keep up with the social media trends as my son gets older, so I can try to make sure he uses these platforms safely.

    Hello from #teamIBOT

    1. Martine

      Good to keep up but even better to teach good solid skills to help them on whatever platform they are using 🙂

  2. Rhianna

    Great info, it is such a tricky balance letting this side of life into children’s being. One that really can not be avoided so it is best to teach them as best we can.

    1. Martine

      Absolutely…there certainly is no avoiding it!

  3. yvette

    good post – definitely worth a read! Think about our safety.. and our childrens safety..

    #teamIBOT 🙂

    1. Martine

      Thanks Yvette, yes this one is not just about the kids!

  4. iSophie

    So glad my boys aren’t at that stage yet. I am pretty sure I have my account locked down pretty good.. but you never know. Facebook keeps changing stuff, it’s ridiculous.


    1. Martine

      It does keep changing things which can be frustrating. And scarily your boys will be at that stage before you know it! 🙂

  5. Grace

    Thanks for this, Martine. Great to have it all summarised. I particularly love your point about how the profile information you include is seen by everyone and that there is no option to block this part from people.
    I keep checking to see if FB has changed anything (regarding settings policies) because I like having my personal account locked down. You just never know when they make their changes, do you?

  6. Becc

    Thank you for this information. I hope I can keep up with all the changes in the future as my son grows up. It is quite frightening when you see things certain things in the media so keeping up to date is a high priority.

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