Saturday, March 22, 2008

Safety Saturdays (#6) - Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online and Offline


As of March 2007, 71% of teens have created online profiles, and 64% of teens post photos or videos of themselves.* Teens often post information only intended for friends, not realizing that it can be viewed by anyone. Check this post for safety tips relating to teens creating a profile or webpage on a social networking site, such as MySpace, Facebook, or Xanga, or through another service.

Here are some safety tips for posting photos and videos:

  • Approve all photos and videos before your children upload them onto the internet.
  • Keep in mind that videos and photos may be saved or forwarded to others.
  • Remember photos can be printed.
  • Make sure the background of the video or photo does not reveal information that can identify the child's identity or location, such as a school name, mall name, or a license plate number.
  • Do not to post sexually provocative or inappropriate photos. It can give people the wrong impression.
  • Remind your child what they post now could affect their reputation, now and in the future. Would they want their parents, future employer, or a college recruiter to see the information? Employers and college recruiters are increasingly searching the internet for information on potential candidates.
  • Find out if your child's friends are posting videos or photos of your child.

If you allow your children to use a webcam, help them know how to use it safely. Teach children to think before revealing themselves on video because it is impossible to predict how it might be used to embarrass or exploit them. Someone looking to exploit a child may start by making small suggestions that seem harmless. They save the webcam videos (or photos sent to them). Then, they move onto larger requests and tell the child if he or she does not comply, the videos/photos will be sent to family, friends, or broadcast over the internet.

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.

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" label 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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