Protecting Your Child Online
- Most social networking websites require that young people be at least 13-years old, and sometimes even 18, to create an account. Don’t let younger children pretend to be older to use these websites.
- MySpace and some other social networking websites let users set their profiles to private so that only their friends – usually defined as people that know their full name or email address – can contact them. Make sure younger teens’ profiles are set to private.
- Go online with your children and have them show you all of their personal profiles. Ask to see some of their friends’ profiles too. If they have a blog or share photos online, ask to see them too.
- Treat your children’s online activities like you do their offline ones. Ask questions about what they do, who their friends are, and if they have made any new friends.
- Set clear rules that you can all agree on regarding what your children are allowed to do online. Make sure you decide if your children are allowed to post photos of themselves and open accounts without your permission.
Online Privacy for Children
- Explain that online information and images can live forever. It can be very hard and sometimes impossible to take down information that is posted, and photos and information may already have been copied and posted elsewhere.
- Tell your children not to post any identifying information online. This includes their cell phone number, address, hometown, school name, and anything else that a stranger could use to locate them.
- Explain that anyone in the world can access what they post online. Tell your children that some college admissions boards and employers are checking social networking sites before they admit students or hire people.
- Remind your children never to give out their passwords to anyone but you – not even their friends. Explain that if someone has their password, they could post embarrassing and unsafe information about them on their personal pages and even pose as your children to talk to other people.
- Make sure that children understand that some people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Explain that on the Internet many people are not truthful about their identity and may even pretend to be someone else. It’s important to stress that young people should never meet people face-to-face that they met online.