Saturday, March 8, 2008

Safety Saturdays (#4) - Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online and Offline

UPDATE: I am reposting this to update the link to the video.

A social networking site, such as MySpace, Facebook, or Xanga, is a place where teens can connect with others and create a page or profile. As of March 2007, 71% of teens have created online profiles; up from 61% in 2006.* Teens often post information only intended for friends, not realizing that it can be viewed by anyone. Once internet, the information can also be copied.

Find out if your teen has created a profile or webpage on a social networking site or through another service. If they have or plan to post information on the internet, review the potential risks. Here are some safety tips and discussion points:
  • Set their profile to private.
  • Restrict preferences so that search engines cannot access their profile/page.
  • Only add people they know in real life to their friends/buddy list. Don't add a friend of friend if you don't know them personally.
  • Do not post personally identifying information, such as their full name, phone number, school, places they hang out, or their schedule.
  • Would they want their parents, future employer, or a college recruiter to read the information? Employers and college recruiters are increasingly searching the internet for information on potential candidates. What teens post now could affect their reputation, not only now but in the future.
  • Don't post information about others that they would not want posted about themselves.
  • Be mindful of information posted because even friends can become ex-friends and use information against them.

Where can you find more information?

  • GetNetWise offers detailed instructions on how to make information more private in MySpace, Xanga, and Facebook.
  • NetSmartz Workshop provides on- and offline learning activities for parents to facilitate discussions with their children and teens about Internet safety.
  • NetSmartz411 is parents' and guardians' premier, online resource for answering questions about Internet safety, computers, and the Web.

Next week, I will talk about posting pictures and videos. 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.) Click on the "Safety Saturdays" topic to the left to get more safety tips.

*Cox communications Inc., National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, and John Walsh. Teen Internet Safety Survey, Wave II. 2007

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