Public Social Networking and Your Child
Social Networking and Your Child
by Julie Pratt
Facebook. Twitter. Social networking. You've most likely heard these terms from your kids. For many, the whole idea of having a profile on a social networking site is to keep in touch with friends. The reality is that the person sitting on the other end of the computer may be a total stranger. While these sites can be excellent tools for self-expression and socializing, it is important to be aware of the possible risks that come with networking online. The Federal Trade Commission urges parents to talk to their teens about social networking sites, and offers these tips for using them safely:
- Help kids understand what information should be private. Tell them why it’s important to keep some things about themselves, family members and friends private.
- Use privacy settings to restrict who can access your child’s website. Show your child how to use privacy settings to limit who can view their profile and explain why this is important.
- Explain that kids should post only information that you and they are comfortable with others seeing. Encourage your child to think about the language they use, and to think before posting pictures.
- Remind kids that once they post information online, they can’t take it back. Even if they delete the information, older versions may exist and be circulated online.
- Talk to your kids about bullying. Tell your kids that the words they type and images they post can have consequences. Encourage your kids to talk to you if they feel targeted by a bully.
- Talk to your kids about avoiding sex talk online. If you’re concerned that your child is engaging in risky online behavior, you can search the blog sites they visit to see what information they’re posting.
- Tell your kids to trust their gut if they have suspicions. If they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, encourage them to tell you. You can help them report concerns to the police and to the social networking site.