child safety

Child Internet Safety And Social Media

The meteoric rise of social networking has put a new twist on child internet safety guidelines.

Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have become all the rage for people of all ages. They provide a platform to stay connected with friends, family and colleagues through the sharing of "status updates," opinions, photos and even by "checking in" which broadcasts your exact location at any given time to the (cyber) world.

Social networking is completely ingrained into today's culture. "Facebook" and "tweet" are common verbs. Most major media outlets broadcast news feeds, companies advertise, and artists cultivate their fan base through social media. Social networking has created unprecedented instant access to all types of information, ranging from what your neighbor had for dinner, to events occurring around the globe. If your children are not yet participating in some way, odds are they will be by the time they are middle school age.

Despite having age restrictions, social networking sites play host to countless young members who are easily able to enroll simply by manipulating the date of birth in their profile. Rather than forbidding your child access, it is more productive to place restrictions on their activities. If your child wants to (or already has) create a social networking site, make sure you always have access to their page and know their password. This rule is nonnegotiable. Once you have access, make sure you monitor their page on a regular basis not only to keep track of the information they are sharing, but also the information being shared by their "friends."

The same rules apply for social networking as for other types of child internet safety. Personal information should never be shared with people who your child does not know IRL (or In Real Life, for the less savvy in the text lingo). Brush up on text shorthand (LOL, BRB, IKR, etc.) so you can decipher messages. Limit the amount of personal information that is shared. Set privacy settings at the highest levels so that only confirmed friends are able to access information or see pictures on your child's page. Reinforce to your child never to authorize or "friend" someone whom he or she does not know, regardless of any messages the person sends or friends they may have in common. Teach your child to forgo the trend of "checking in," which alerts friends and followers of their exact location at all times.

The best child safety precautions parents can take in the new internet age is to maintain communication with their children. Be "friends" online, monitor internet usage, and frequently discuss what is and is not safe to share online. The biggest dangers to watch for are signs your child may be engaging in inappropriate behaviors, evidence of cyber bullying and possible contact from child predators. If necessary, parents can also use child internet safety software to monitor children's internet access and usage.

Sometimes your child can go to a site that has unwanted phishing for your online data and you wouldn't even know it. That is why there are companies and programs like cloud computing security with Trend Micro to educate and protect your children and PC from unwanted computer attacks.

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