The popularity of social networking sites like: MySpace, Facebook and Windows Live Spaces is overwhelming and rapidly increasing. According to Wikipedia, MySpace has over 168 million users worldwide, Facebook has 19 million users and Windows Live Spaces has over 120 million users.
Social networking sites offer many benefits to their users, from sharing personal profiles and communicating with people of similar interests to finding romance and relationships. These sites serve many useful functions, but there are several dangers young people face when using them.
The most alarming set of dangers comes from online sexual predators seeking to lure your children into inappropriate sexual situations. These online sexual predators comb these social networking sites looking for adolescents and children who willingly provide personal information and will naively engage in intimate online conversations with them.
5 Safety Tips to Protect Your Children From Online Sexual Predators:
– Keep your family’s computer in an open area, like the kitchen or family room. Try to use the internet with your kids when possible.
– Talk to your children about their online habits. Explain to them the reasons why it’s important to keep personal information, i.e. phone number, address, name of their school and where they work to themselves. Any information that could be used to locate them offline should not be shared.
– Learn as much as you can about the internet and the kinds of sites your children are using, so you can keep up with their surfing habits and maintain an understanding of the types of danger they are facing.
– Remind your kids that once online information is posted, it stays on the Internet forever. Even if your children delete the information from a site like MySpace, older versions can exist on other people’s computers.
– Only allow your children to post information that you and they are comfortable with others seeing and knowing. Many people may happen upon your child’s page from teachers, to potential employers and college admissions officers.
Social networking sites like MySpace, Windows Live Spaces and Facebook are popular places for your children to network and communicate with friends. But, to protect their safety and your whole family’s privacy, you must teach your children to exercise caution. You should also communicate with them constantly about their online use and educate yourself and your children about the dangers facing them online.
Internet Security Tips for the Home User – Part 3