Kids use the Internet for hours upon hours each week. They can navigate themselves very well around the World Wide Web. Kids use the Internet to research for school papers or assignments, playing games, and social networking. Just because kids know a lot about using the Internet does not mean that they know very much about Internet safety. Kids do not always know when they are in danger on the Internet. They can be very trusting. Parents need to talk to their children about the dangers involved in social networking.
What is social networking
Kids probably do not even realize that they are “social networking” when they actually are. To them, they are just hanging out with friends using the Internet. Parents should begin by explaining that social networking is connecting with people who have similar interests, go to the same school, or are from the same place. Social networking, by definition, seems harmless, but there are a lot of hidden dangers.
What are some social networking websites
Some of the most popular social networking websites include MySpace and Classmates. There are other sites, such as Facebook, that seem safer than a website such as MySpace, but it is still considered a social networking site. Though these are some of the most popular social networking sites, these are only three of hundreds of the social networking sites available online.
The dangers of social networking
General kids feel pretty safe if they are chatting or social networking with someone online. They may think that telling people information is no big deal. Some kids trust the people they have met online, or they feel find telling someone something online because it seems so different from telling a total stranger personal information in person. Though it seems different then talking to a stranger in real life, it actually is just that.
Kids may not be aware that there are people who are online that will lie about who they are so that they can harm them. Parents need to explain that there are people online, called online sexual predators, which are very dangerous. They may seem like a friend, and slowly get personal information out of the child. Their screen names may seem like a regular kid’s screen name so they can easily trick kids who are online social networking. A sexual predator’s profile will most likely portray someone they are pretending to be, even if they have pictures.
Parents need to explain to children that it is not okay to give out personal information about themselves to people they have met online. Giving full names, addresses, school names, phone numbers, birthdays, and any other type of personal information is very dangerous. Sexual predators can use any combination of personal information to find the child and harm them.
If kids are social networking online they may give out personal information such as their Social Security number or their bank account information. Or someone a child meets on a social networking site may send them an email with a virus that steals personal information or the child may give a password that leads someone to important personal information. Parents need to explain to children that they should never give out personal information, especially not their Social Security number, bank account number, or any passwords or credit card number.
Many time kids and teens are just keeping in touch with friends that they already know. This is definitely safer since they actually know the person, but there are other dangers involved with kids networking with friends online.
Cyber bullying can go on when kids are social networking. This can be very harmful to a child and can be hard for adults and parents to find out about or stop. Parents need to talk to their children about what they do online and discuss with them about cyber bullying. Parents should make sure that their child is not involved in cyber bullying, whether they are the involved in bullying another child or whether they are a child being bullied.