Parents should consider their own Facebook habits rather than focusing on their children when it comes to social media, experts say.

Researchers and online community managers will try to challenge the way families think about the internet at a free conference at Northbridge Piazza on Saturday, which is part of this week's Media 140 conference.

Curtin University internet studies lecturer Tama Leaver said he expected to surprise some parents by targeting them not their children.

"Parents shouldn't just dictate what kids do online," he said.

"They need to be aware that kids should be able to ask parents to change their habits, too."

Dr Leaver said most parents now celebrated the birth of a child by "saturating" Facebook with pictures.

"What happens when our kids come to an age when they start using the internet for themselves," he asked.

"What happens if you've pre-populated the web with every embarrassing photograph you've taken in the past 10 years?"

Online community manager Venessa Paech said "hysteria" about social media risks did not help and parents should encourage children to play on the internet, rather than try to keep them away from it.

She encouraged parents to help children create multiple fake personas for social media accounts to avoid publishing identifying information about themselves.

"If they can diversify their online presence, they are in a better position to have agency over their online reputation when they are a little bit older," she said.

Social Innovation co-founder Kate Carruthers said etiquette was still being formed around social media.

Where a Generation Y teenager might think it is perfectly normal to send a Facebook or text message of condolence to a grieving friend or relative, older family members might find it offensive, she said.

"The Digital Family event starts at 10am on Saturday.

To receive a show bag, register at

The West Australian

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