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Facebook unveils its new parent portal

Here’s an intriguing new rollout from Facebook: a new “parent portal,” designed to help parents and kids navigate the site together and foster better communication about online activity.

What is this mysterious sci-fi-sounding “parent portal”? Surprisingly, it’s not a monitoring system for parents to keep tabs on their kids’ Facebook pages, nor does the new portal allow parents to delete their children’s account. Facebook says these options would violate privacy laws.

Instead, the Facebook parent portal is simply a set of safety guidelines and resources to help first-time users make sense of the site. Basic elements include how to register on Facebook, import contacts and create posts. The portal also provides helpful internet safety wisdom: how to craft a secure password as well as how to block and report disturbing or concerning content.

At Facebook’s parent portal, there’s also a collection of tips for parents about online safety — and how Facebook can be a friendly place for minors. There are links to internet advocacy organizations that focus on policies related to kids and their online activities. Basically, Facebook seems to be aggregating all of its guidelines in one handy place.

Facebook’s popularity is way down with younger users, so we’re wondering if this is an attempt to lasso that younger crowd — with their parents’ blessing. Used by 1.8 billion people across the globe, Facebook doesn’t provide data about just how many users are under the age of 18. No doubt, it’s a significant number, but more young people seem to consider Facebook a less hip delivery system for their social media fix. A new Piper Jaffray survey reports that 80 percent of teen respondents hailed Snapchat as their fave online platform.

It remains to be seen just how helpful or useful this parent portal addition will be — for kids or parents. We’re wondering what you think… are there other apps (like Snapchat or Tumblr) that you’d like to see parent portals for? In any case, we hope this rollout from Facebook encourages open discussion for many kids and parents about what’s OK online and what’s not. But maybe our kids are way ahead of us already, and this is a case of too little, too late.

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