What Parents Should Know About Social Networks and How to Keep Your Children SafeBy: Lindse R. Mitchell-Hurd ABA 607
Social NetworkingSocial networking sites are online services which allow users to add friends, send messages and share content. People on social networking sites group in communities of like-minded interests. Examples: Facebook, Twitter, MySpace.
Facebook: Facebook is one of the worlds most popular social networking sites, with over 500 million users. Although it is restricted to members with a .edu email address, parents should still stongly caution since Facebook does not always follow up to check whether the web address is for a school alumni or student.
Facebook ContinuedUsers can create profiles with photos, lists of personal interests, contact information, and other personal information. Users can communicate with friends and other users through private or public messages and a chat feature. Facebook enables users to choose their own privacy settings and choose who can see specific parts of their profile. The website is free to users, and generates revenue from advertising, such as banner ads. Facebook requires a users name and profile picture (if applicable) to be accessible by everyone. Users can control who sees other information they have shared, as well as who can find them in searches, through their privacy settings.
The Risks of Using Social Networks Sexual PredatorsPrivacy ScammersEmployment/Third PartiesBullying
A Few More TipsTake extra steps to protect younger kids. Keep the computer in an open area like the kitchen or family room, so you can keep an eye on what your kids are doing online. Use the Internet with them to help develop safe surfing habits. Consider taking advantage of parental control features on some operating systems that let you manage your kids computer use, including what sites they can visit, whether they can download items, or what time of day they can be online. Go where your kids go online. Sign up for and use the social networking spaces that your kids visit. Let them know that youre there, and help teach them how to act as they socialize online. Review your childs friends list. You may want to limit your childs online friends to people your child actually knows and is friendly with in real life. Understand sites privacy policies. Sites should spell out your rights as a parent to review and delete your childs profile if your child is younger than 13.
What to do if there is a problem:Encourage your kids to tell you if they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online. Then report it right away to the police and the social networking site.The Childrens Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires websites to obtain parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under age 13. If a website is violating COPPA, report it to the Federal Trade Commission
To Learn More About Staying Safe Online, Here are Some Important WebsitesConnectSafely www.connectsafely.org Federal Trade Commission www.onguardonline.govCyberbully411 www.cyberbully411.org