Saturday, February 23, 2008

Safety Saturdays (#2) - Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online and Offline

Blog Safety Tips for Teens

Many teens enjoy communicating and expressing themselves through social networking sites and blogs. They may not realize how the information could reach an unattended audience. Communicating with people they have only met online and giving out identifying information may put them at risk.

Knowledge and communication are essential tools you can use to keep kids and teens safer online. Clearly define rules and guidelines for internet use with your children. If you allow them to use social networking sites and/or have blogs, let them know you will be monitoring this privilege. Here are some specific tips to discuss with your children:

  • Your child should never post identifying information, such as last name, address, school name, phone number, hang outs. It is important to avoid posting what could be used to locate her/him.
  • Make sure photos do not have identifying information on shirts or in the background, such as school name, car's license plate, name of a mall, school sport's team. Your child should avoid posting anything that could be used to locate her/him.
  • Your teen should be careful about information posted about her/his friends. Teach them to follow the first two tips for friends also and to make sure friends are not posting information that could put her/him at risk.
  • They also should not post specifics about plans and activities that could be used to located him/her.
  • Tell them to never respond to rude or harassing comments, to delete such comments, and block the "friend" if needed.
  • Check the privacy settings for the service they are using. It is best to set it so that your teen has to approve who is added as a friend and that only approved friend's can view profile. For these settings to be effective, your teen must only add people they know as friends.
  • Explain to your teen that people looking to harm them could use information posted in blog to gain their trust or to pretend they know her/him.
  • Talk to your teen about never posting inappropriate comments about other teens.
  • If your teen already has a blog, you may want to review it together and remove any information that could put them at risk.

For additional information on blog safety, be sure to check out "Blog Beware" from NetSmartz Workshop and Teen Guide To Safe Blogging at Taking precautions and keeping communications open between you and your child can help your child safely enjoy blogging and social networking sites.

In future "Safety Saturdays" posts, I will continue to address safety issues surrounding what teens post online. Several posts will include short video messages that can also be viewed by young people.

Please let me know if you have any questions or if there is a particular topic that you would like to see covered in a future post. (If you are not familiar with blogging, you can still leave a comment below. Just click the anonymous button and type your comment in the text box provided.)


Anonymous said...

What exactly is blogging? Is it instant messaging? Do you have any suggestions/tips for checking on the instant messages that our children recieve, ie. how do you check/review instant messages? Thank you.

Michelle said...

Great questions! A blog is similar to a personal journal that is kept online. It can be on a personal page of a social networking site, such as MySpace or Facebook, or through a separate service, such as Google's Blogger. Pictures and videos may be posted. People can communicate through the comments, just as we are doing. Communication is not as immediate or private as it is with instant messaging.

How you save instant message (IM) conversations will depend on the IM service. NetSmartz411 ( answers questions about Internet safety, computers, and the Web. There are several resources in their library for saving instant messages. You can also submit a question directly to their experts.

There may be parental controls available through your internet service provider or operating system. You may want to consider monitoring software. You can do some research on what may work for your family through the "Tools for Families" in the "Keeping Children Safe Online" section of

I hope these tips help. Instant messaging will also be on my list of future topics.