EUGENE, Ore. - Facebook now offers teenagers the ability not just to connect with their friends, but the world.
The move to allow teens to share publicly on Facebook instead of just with friends and friends of those friends has met with mixed reactions.
Some parents worry the option will expose teenagers to adults who might try to exploit them.
“That age group is young and there’s a lot of... they haven’t matured their minds, they don’t really know what is OK and what is not,” said Matthew Flood. “So I think it’s a little scary.”
Colin Downey agreed.
“Maybe, as a general rule of thumb, that’s probably a bit more responsibility to be throwing on them at that age,” Downey said.
Dustin Luna said the thought of anyone being able to access a young teen’s information is dangerous.
“I would be uncomfortable if all of a sudden, a 40-year-old guy was looking at my 13-year-old daughter’s ‘oh hey, look at this, a family vacation’ and there she is in a swimsuit. I would be extremely uncomfortable with that, that is not OK,” said Luna.
Todd Schneider, crime prevention specialist at Eugene Police, said the proposed shift is not really a game changer for parents and their kids. Teens have had to be careful with their online presence for years.
But Schneider said the change offers parents the chance to talk to their kids about Internet safety.
“Plug in with your kids,” he said. “Talk to them about these issues.”
John Reese, father of two, said he has always kept a close eye on his kids’ online activity.
“I monitored my kids online, I monitored how much time they spent on it,” Reese said.
“The best defense that you have as a parent is just to be aware," Flood said. "Aware of what your kids are doing, aware of how much access they have to the internet.”
Facebook said teens will see "Friends" as the default for sharing posts. That is narrower than the previous default for users 13 to 17, which was "Friends of Friends."
Teen can choose to share with "Friends of Friends" or "Public."
"When teens choose 'Public' in the audience selector, they’ll see a reminder that the post can be seen by anyone, not just people they know, with an option to change the post’s privacy," Facebook said in a blog post.