When I first joined Facebook, my teen’s friends appeared often on my newsfeed. Most of my friends had friended their own kids and sometimes their teen’s posts popped up on my newsfeed. The last few years, I have rarely seen updates from them. Not seeing them, I assumed that moved on to Instagram and Snapchat. However, I was wrong.
According to Pew Internet, Facebook is still the number social network for all teens. Facebook ranked well ahead of Instagram. Pew internet found that Facebook is especially popular with older teens. 44% of 13 year olds reported using the network, compared to 77% of the 14-17 age group.
While teens are still there, their activities are less visible. This is not their primary network for sharing with their friends or classmates. If you want to see silly selfies and squad pics, those are on Instagram or Snapchat. If you want to see what the rally squad is planning or when the honor society is meeting, that is on Facebook.
Teens meet in Facebook Groups. Here, they can all come together regardless of device or operating system. Teens can stay in touch with all their groups through the Facebook Group App (iTunes, GooglePlay) or on the desktop. In these groups, teens can post pictures, discuss assignments and share information around a class, club or event. Group activities stay within the group not on a teen’s timeline.
The rise in groups is most likely due to teens wanting to keep content off their profiles. Understandably, teens are wary of sharing on Facebook. They know universities, companies and other adults in their life can check out their timeline. Wisely, they are careful about what the post there.
Group come in 3 forms: public, closed or secret.
- Public Group means anyone can join. Everyone, even non-members, can see all the content on the group page and the list of members. Public groups are easy to find and appear in Facebook search results.
- Closed groups only allow approved members to post on the page and only members can see the content and comments. A closed group is still searchable on Facebook meaning everyone can still see membership list, who created the group and the description of the group.
- Secret groups are invisible on Facebook. These groups do not come up in search results and membership is hidden. Membership is by invitation only. Only members can read and add posts.
The responsibility for choosing the setting and managing the group falls on the creator. The person who creates the group page is the administrator. They decide the level of privacy and how members are approved. Once the group page is rolling, they are primarily responsible for managing content. They can remove or report content as well as remove or block members.
What Teens and Parents need to know about Facebook Groups
Facebook groups work well to bring people together around a club or common interest. Occasionally, I see teachers setting up groups to facilitate class discussion. Not all groups are so innocent. Search “Teen” on Facebook and you will find Closed Groups for “Naughty Teens” or “Cute or Nah Teens Only”. Even in a closed or secret group, teens and adults need to be careful about what they share within the group.
4 Risks to watch out for with Facebook Groups
Fluctuating Privacy Settings –If a group has less than 250 members, the admin can change the setting either up or down. A secret group can become public; what was once private content can become highly visible. This cannot happen if the group has more than 250 members. With a large group, an admin can only ratchet the setting down. For example, a closed group can become a secret group but it cannot become a public group.
Uncaring Admin – The admin or admins have a lot of power in their group. They manage the content, members and settings. They set the tone for the group. That is a lot of responsibility. The group works best when an admin is active and engaged. When a teen decide to make a group, they need to realize this is a job. They are the mediator and responsible for keeping the group safe.
Sharing outside of group – While members cannot share group content on their timeline, they can take a screenshot and post that on their profile or on another social network. Even in a super secret group, members can share content more widely. Nothing is every completely private on the Internet.
Posting responsibly – The group may be secret but your identity is not. No one is anonymous on Facebook. On both Public and Closed groups, their membership list is public. This means parents and other adults can see if you are a member of “Teens with Benefits.” Within groups, members should still follow community guidelines and post with kindness.
Do not Neglect Your Facebook Profile
Teens should not leave their Facebook timeline empty. Facebook comes up high in search results and many colleges and employers have Facebook pages. Teens can transform their idle Facebook profile into their social resume. This is a chance for teens to enhance their application or resume by sharing all the great events and activities they are proud to participate in.