Internet Safety and Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites are popular online places where kids express themselves, keep in touch with friends, and post personal profiles describing who they are and their interests. Online social networking is extremely popular among teenagers and parents must become aware of the risks.
- Internet predators use social networking cites to contact and establish relationships with children.
- Many social networking sites encourage kids to compete to see who has the greatest number of friends or likes. Kids will add new members to their lists even if they don’t know them in person.
- Users may pose as someone else — a different person or person of a different age — without others knowing. Such users have taken advantage of this and social-networking profiles to entice or sexually exploit kids.
- Kids often post too much personal information about themselves in social networking cites.
Tips to Minimize Risks
- Urge kids to restrict access to their profiles so only those on their contact lists are able to view them.
- Encourage them to choose gender-neutral screennames or nicknames — such as their initials or a word. Make sure the name doesn’t include information revealing their identity or location.
- Remind kids to use the privacy settings on social-networking sites to restrict access to their “spaces” or blogs to only people they know in person.
- Know who your kids are communicating with online.
- Insist your kids never give out personal information or arrange to meet in person with someone they’ve met online.