Social networking has become one of the most popular ways to find friends, family, and form new relationships with people all over the world. You can use social networks to write journal entries, post pictures for family and friends to see, and join social network groups with millions around the country. There is a growing concern from parents however, on how to protect your children from being victims of social networking hoaxes.
Since the MySpace hoax with Megan Meier, parents and many of the MySpace users have become more cautious about who they allow to see their profiles and who they allow their children to talk to and form relationships with. There are several things children and parents can do to protect their children from becoming victims like Megan Meier on social networking hoaxes.
For children who sign up to use social networks like Facebook or MySpace there are some precautions they should take before becoming a user on these social networks. Here are some suggestions:
•Talk with your parents about getting involved in any type of social network before you actually do it so that they can learn more about the network you want to be involved in. They too need to understand the role of social networking in your life as much as you do. Be open and honest with them and they can help get you started and keep you safe.
•Don’t ever post anything you wouldn’t show your parent or guardian or anything you wouldn’t want them to see. It is also a good idea to keep in mind that anything you post on the Internet can be seen by any potential employer.
•Don’t post your personal information on the Internet. There are always options when it comes to privacy and as a young user it can be fun to be able to fill in all your personal details. After all, that’s what social networking is for right? Wrong. Don’t use your phone number, address, social security number, or anything that unknown users can use to contact you.
•Don’t add anyone as a friend to your page unless you have actually met them in person.
We all would love for the Internet to be a safe place for children to find friends and join school groups but the reality of it is that there are individuals that will take advantage of young innocent users. There are several things you as a parent can do to protect your child from social networking hoaxes:
•It is recommended that you only allow children over the age of sixteen to participate in online communities. Children younger than this do not possess the maturity level needed for social networking.
•Create an account for yourself on whichever social network your child is on. Spend some time becoming familiar with the site so that you feel comfortable navigating through it.
•Give clear and specific expectations on who they should add as friends and what type of personal information they can or cannot give on their profile page.
•Teach them how to use the privacy settings so that only known users can see their full profile.
•Know your child’s screen name, password, and account information so that you can periodically monitor and read it. This may seem intrusive to your child but is crucial to see messages and catching potential sexual predators.
•If it appears that the social network privilege is being abused then remove the privilege until they are old enough or mature enough to obey the rules. This is only for their utmost safety.
Protecting your children from being victims of social networking hoaxes is a parent’s responsibility and should not be left to anyone else to monitor and watch. Always keep the lines of communication open with your child and keep an eye on their network page to make sure that no unauthorized users have breeched through privacy settings.