By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Teens probably won't use Facebook's new Youth Portal, but parents should
A new resource intended to guide young people through social media questions and concerns is actually a great asset for parents. - photo by Shutterstock

Facebook will lose 2 million users under age 25 this year, according to eMarketer. The research company also reports that 2018 will mark the first time that less than half of United States teen internet users will use Facebook even once a month.

Facebook has just launched a Youth Portal as a central place for teens on the social network. I’m not sure if this was an attempt to retain younger users or to excite new teen users about the platform, but it will do neither. What the Youth Portal will be is a great resource for older adults who want to learn how to better navigate the site, and for parents who need to guide their kids through safety and privacy features.

Facebook claims the Youth Portal is to educate on all things Facebook, to give tips on security, for teens to hear from their peers and to offer some advice to young people. It’s available in 60 languages and Facebook says it counseled with teens (and will continue to do so) from all over the world about what should be included.

The Facebook basics section first explains pages, groups, events and profiles. The only people I can imagine needing this primer are very young kids brand new to social networking, and much older adults who aren’t quite sure how it all works yet.

The security section gives helpful, oft-mentioned tips on how to keep your account safe. It touches on passwords, two-factor authentication, scams and how to report fake accounts. The portion on defining your network gives every possibility on how to manage friends and followers and how often you’ll see their content. Parents may especially be interested to read — in much plainer language than found in a Terms of Service — the information on what types of data Facebook collects and how they use it.

Under the only other section, called “Tips and Resources,” teens will find really great advice on how to stay safe online. But, as it is unlikely they will ever read it, I suggest parents take a peek and find a time to discuss it with their kids.

I especially appreciate how Liz Perle, Facebook’s consultant on youth and emerging trends, puts many of these safety tips within an allegory likening your Facebook profile to your own home. She suggests changing your locks (passwords) every so often, not allowing strangers to hang out in your room (only friend people you actually know) and never leaving the door to your house open (don’t share passwords). Perle also gives practical advice on how to trust your gut and avoid being a jerk on social media.

The last section is the blog where Facebook offers teens the ability to “hear from your peers about the issues that matter to them online.” There are only five blog posts available right now and the first three focus on LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights. The fourth blog post is on bullying and the last is on helping poorer teenage girls get the products they need during their menstrual cycle.

These are worthy causes, but I hope Facebook branches out here and includes a bigger variety of issues as the scope seems a bit narrow.

This month, Facebook started showing tips for teens in News Feed to encourage people to click on the Youth Portal. Again, I highly doubt that a post talking about rules and privacy will be clickbait to most teenagers out there. But the Youth Portal could definitely be a great source of information for concerned parents.

Contact Amy on
Sign up for our E-Newsletters