Parents Need to Understand Facebook

To help kids reach their potential, parents today must know about Facebook. That’s the purpose of this site and related materials, including our new book.

Some background: In 2009, a series of classes at Stanford helped parents learn more about Facebook. The instructors were psychologist Dr. BJ Fogg of Stanford’s Persuasive Technology Lab and BJ’s sister, Linda Phillips, a mom with 8 kids, ages 11 to 26 (now that’s experience!). We measured the impact of our curriculum, and we found clear benefits in all areas we measured.

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Building on teaching and research, we wrote a new book: Facebook for Parents: Answers to the Top 25 Questions. This is now available on Amazon.

To create this book, we selected the most pressing questions parents have about Facebook. We answer one question in each chapter. We worked hard to make each chapter short, easy to read, and accurate. The initial response has been very good.

If you go to Amazon, you’ll see the table of contents, which is a list of the questions we answer.

We believe this book is the best resource for parents. We explain both the bad and good aspects of Facebook. The book points readers to additional resources, like our video tutorials.

We will continue our work teaching and updating parents. See the items below for steps you can take to learn more about Facebook:

1: Learn from our class
To be notified of our future classes, either at Stanford or online, please let us know using this form.

2: Get updates about Facebook
You can stay current with Facebook by signing up for a free newsletter about Facebook, created for especially for parents.

3: Join our global Teaching Team
Can you help other parents learn about Facebook? If so, see the Teaching Team page. We seek 20 talented people to work with us in the early stages. Our eventual goal is to create a global network of qualified people who can teach parents about Facebook.

Our material helps parents think clearly about Facebook

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In our work with parents, we focus on “how to think” about Facebook more than “what to do.” Our “how to think” approach empowers parents to deal with whatever comes next. In contrast, if we simply told you, as a parent, “what to do,” those steps may not work as your child gets older or as Facebook evolves (and Facebook will continue to change, of course).

Case in point: Facebook as “Private Bedroom” . . .

Some parents worry about joining Facebook because they don’t want to intrude on their child’s privacy. They see it as spying in their kid’s bedroom. This view -- Facebook as private bedroom -- is not accurate. Why?

#1 - Strangers don’t enter a kid’s bedroom. But on Facebook, kids can interact with strangers.

#2 - In a bedroom, acts are not observable by hundreds of people. In contrast, acts your child does on Facebook are widely observable.

#3 - Finally, what goes on in a bedroom is not recorded online, potentially forever. But it is on Facebook.

In short, we believe that if you view “Facebook as private bedroom” you will make mistakes in parenting.

There’s a bright side . . . Facebook can benefit kids

Parents worry about the safety of their loved ones. That’s natural. But there’s a bright side to Facebook that parents should not overlook. Today’s youth can learn important skills by using Facebook in the right way. We’ve identified five skills areas kids can learn on Facebook. These skills are vital for their future success:

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What’s Next?

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If you’re not already on Facebook, you should get started soon. The best way for parents to understand Facebook is to use it.

In addition, you should sign up for our free newsletter to stay updated with the ever-changing world of Facebook. Each newsletter explains new skills kids can learn on Facebook that will benefit their future.

Please share our website with friends who need this info.

Dr. BJ Fogg founded the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University, where he directs research and design. In addition, he devotes at least half his time to industry projects and innovations, all of which focus on using technology to change behaviors in positive ways.

BJ is the author of
Persuasive Technology: Using Computers to Change What We Think and Do. He is the co-editor of Mobile Persuasion: 20 Perspectives on the Future of Behavior Change and the 2009 book Texting 4 Health. BJ is now completing an edited volume called The Psychology of Facebook.