A Parent’s Guide To Social Networking (NAPS)—“It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” Remember that phrase from your own childhood? It’s still a valid questions, but now, it comes with a twist: “Do you know where your kids are—and who they’re talking to online?” Social networking sites are the hippest “meet market” around, especially among tweens, teens, and 20-somethings. These sites allow and encourage people to exchange information about them- Monitor your children’s use of selves in profiles and journals, and social networking sites to be use message boards, chat rooms, sure they’re not sharing personal e-mail and instant messaging to information. communicate with the world at large. Unfortunately, while social comfortable with everyone seeing networking sites can increase a and knowing. The Internet is the person’s circle of friends, they also world’s biggest billboard: Just can increase exposure to people about anyone could see their page, who have less than friendly inten- including their teachers, the tions. The Federal Trade Commis- police, a college admissions officer, sion, the nation’s consumer protec- or a potential employer. In addi- tion agency, offers tips for helping tion, once information is online, your kids use these sites safely: it’s there forever. • Keep the computer in an • Warn your kids about the open area, like the kitchen or fam- dangers of flirting with strangers ily room, where you can keep an online. Because some people lie eye on where your kids are going online about who they really are, online and what they’re doing. no one ever really knows who • Use the Internet with your they’re dealing with. Tell your chil- kids. Be open to learning about dren to trust their gut: If they feel the technology so you can keep up threatened or uncomfortable by with them. Look into their someone or something online, they favorite sites so you can set sensi- need to tell you and then report it ble guidelines. to the police and your Internet • Talk to your kids about their service provider. You could end up online habits. If they use social preventing someone else from networking sites, tell them why becoming a victim. it’s important to keep their name, • If you’re concerned that your Social Security number, address, child is engaging in risky online phone number, age and family behavior, you can search the blog financial information to them- sites they visit to see what informa- selves. Your children should be tion they’re posting. Try searching cautious about sharing other iden- by their name, nickname, school, tifying information, too. hobbies, or area where you live. • Your kids should post only Visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov information that you and they are to learn more. Web Watch Social networking sites are the hippest “meet market” around, especially among tweens, teens, and 20-somethings. Social networking sites allow and encourage people to exchange information about themselves. Unfortunately, while social networking sites can increase a person’s circle of friends, they also can increase exposure to people who have less than friendly intentions. Visit www.OnGuardOnline.gov to learn more.
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