Social Networking Sites
Teens and young adults have flocked to so-called social-networking sites, to the extent that kids who don't have a profile are becoming the exception to the rule. Cheaper, more accessible technologies have not only broken down barriers to multimedia production, but also psychological barriers to self-expression on the Internet. These social networking sites give children the opportunity to share stories, pictures, videos, and other files with friends and acquaintances.
For kids of this generation, who have used Internet-based technologies for many social purposes, posting a profile of one's self and sending messages and files to friends is a natural progression. There are certainly safety concerns that parents and children should discuss -- related to the posting of inappropriate content, personal information, and contact with friends they make online.
Make Your Social Networking More Private
Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child's website. Some social networking sites have settings to limit the information you share with others. Show your child how to use these settings to limit who can view their online profile, and explain to them why this is important. Below are few samples of how to change the preferences in some social networking sites:
Resources for Parents:
- ConnectSafely.org is a new resource created by Larry Magid of Safekids.com and Anne Collier of Net Family News. It outlines basic guidelines for teens' safe blogging and social-networking.
- OnGuard Online from the Federal Trade Commission provides good advice on safe social networking.
- For parents, there's the new Connect Safely Forum. (Teens are welcome, too!) Post your concerns, share your concerns, and ask other parents (and teen bloggers) questions about their experiences with social networking sites -- many other parents share your concerns and may have insight for you if you are worried about your child's online socializong and media uploading.
- On this site, you can find software filters that prevent your child from entering his or her address, phone number, or other material.
- Consider installing monitoring software that will disclose if your child has entered personal information.