Social networking is a popular pastime especially amongst teens and tweens. To make sure that social networking is used responsibly, parents should be aware of the sites their children are on and have an open conversation about what these sites are for. Here are a few tips to help parents keeps children safe online:
- Determine an appropriate age for children to use social networking. Children must be mature enough to handle the challenges and responsibility of social networking. There are simpler, more kid-friendly sites for tweens such as www.imbee.com and www.whyville.net.
- Create your own account on Facebook or MySpace to familiarize yourself with the content of the site so that you can discuss features with your child and get a better feel for what your child uses the site for.
- Let your child know that you would like to periodically check their account to monitor what they are doing, who they are friends with, etc. Make sure you know their usernames and passwords for all accounts in case something happens and you need to access the account on their behalf.
- Make sure that your child never posts or shares financial or personal identification information such as social security numbers, phone number, etc.
- Ask that your child only become “friends” with people they know in real life and never accept friend requests from people they are unfamiliar with.
For more information on keeping your children safe on social networking sites, please check out http://www.safefamilies.org/socialnetworking.php