"Facebook stalking" is a colloquial term used mostly by teenagers and young adults. It's actually not as bad as it sounds; no criminal behavior is involved. If you are Facebook stalking someone, you check that person's page at least once a day and notice any time they have posted anything to their wall or anyone else's. You have leafed through all of the photos and videos the person has posted, and you have read the person's profile information multiple times.
Usually, a person you Facebook stalk is someone you either like or dislike very much. For instance, you may want to keep tabs on a person you are in a fight with to see if any of the person's posts are referring to you and your disagreement. Or maybe your cousin from across the country just had a baby, and you want to see pictures and hear how everything is going with the new baby. You may check for updates and new photo albums so that you don't miss a single snapshot of the new baby. Or, perhaps the most common Facebook stalking scenario of all is this: you may try to find out everything you can about the cute guy or girl in your chemistry class. Is she dating anyone? Does he like the same movies you do? What does her family look like? Do his other Facebook friends look cool? Does she have plans this weekend? By constantly checking a person's Facebook page (especially if the person constantly updates his or her page), you can get answers to all these questions and more.
Facebook stalking is funny: kids joke about it, and most would admit to doing it themselves, yet it's creepy to find that someone has Facebook stalked you. It's socially awkward for a person to know far more about you than you've ever told the person yourself.
Facebook stalking is also when you go through friends of your friends and look at their profiles. The person being stalked in this situation often does not know the stalker.
Concerns for Parents
- If you are keeping tabs on your child's Facebook account, you're actually Facebook stalking your child. Though doing this is appropriate and responsible parenting, your child might resent it.
- If your child posts a lot of information frequently and then adds distant acquaintances as friends, those acquaintances can Facebook stalk your child very easily.
- Sometimes when stalking you can run into inappropriate pictures or information on another persons profile.
How Can I Keep My Child Safe?
- Being Facebook stalked doesn't really put you in danger; in fact, it's probably a compliment if someone thinks you're interesting enough to spend hours researching. However, if someone is full-on cyberstalking you (cyberstalkers do far more than merely look at your Facebook page), you should unfriend the person and talk to an adult to get help.
- Encourage your child to be selective in choosing Facebook friends. They shouldn't add anyone unless they are comfortable knowing that person can view everything on their personal profile—pictures, videos, posts, comments from others, and everything else.
- Your child may know (and hate) that you keep close tabs on his or her Facebook page. Don't aggravate the awkward situation by verbally commenting on things your child has posted. If you see something unsafe or inappropriate on your kid's page, you absolutely need to say something. Otherwise, it's probably best to keep your mouth shut.
- Even more importantly, don't make comments on your child's Facebook page. This sounds mean, but it's true: there is a horrible social stigma attached to someone whose parents or other close relatives constantly make little comments on photos or write on a kid's wall. Your child may find this embarrassing and may find subversive ways to block you from viewing his or her Facebook activity.
- If you are concerned about the safety of your child, then help them to set their profile to private. Settings can be changed so that if you are not friends with a person, then they cannot see any information about you.