13/04/2024

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Have You Done Your Parental Due Diligence When it Comes to Social Networking?

4 min read
Have You Done Your Parental Due Diligence When it Comes to Social Networking?

When I was raising my two daughters a common phrase parents heard was, “Do you know where your children are?”

Nowadays, this question takes on a whole new area of responses. It does not just apply to what movie they are at with their friends, or school social activities or perhaps which roller skating rink you might have to pick them up at. Today your children can be at home, but do you know who they are talking to online?

Tweens, teens and even adults find social networking sites the “in” place to be. People who visit these sites get caught up in exchanging information about themselves in profiles and chat rooms.

Kids feel pretty important communicating with other people online. The frightening part of this realm of communication is they do not really know who they are communicating with. We hear lots of unsettling stories about the outcome of some of these relationships. For this reason we need to not only educate our children about the possibilities of deception that exist in these social networking situations, but we also need to educate ourselves. A lot of parents, I am afraid, allow the computer to be a “baby sitter” for their children. Unless the parents have done their homework on protecting their children on the internet they may run into problems.

A person’s circle of friends can definitely be enlarged when they are involved with a social network, but the unfortunate thing is that not everyone they come in contact with has good intentions.

Check your antivirus software to be sure your parental control settings are set up properly. To assist you in keeping yourself and your children safe on the internet, especially in social networking situations, the following suggestions are offered by the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC is the nation’s consumer protection agency. Check out their website.

o Your computer should be set up in an open area, perhaps in the kitchen or family room, to allow you to keep an eye on the websites your child is visiting and what they are doing. I am a grandmother and this rule exists in my house for my grandchildren.

o Discuss the internet with your children. Make them aware of the things they need to watch out for.

o Children nowadays are very computer savvy. Spend time learning about new technology so you can be on the same level with them knowledge-wise.

o Review the site your children are visiting so you will be able to set sensible guidelines.

o Discuss online habits with your children. If they are in fact using social networking sites be sure they understand why it is important they do not share certain information, such as their name, age, address, phone number social security number or family financial information. Identity theft can happen with our children as well as with ourselves.

o Discuss with your children what information they should be sharing/posting. Stress the importance that information they share is out there for everyone to see. The internet is the world’s largest billboard. Anyone can see their page. This includes their teachers, a college admissions officer, the police or even a future employer. Once you post to the internet it is there forever…there are no erasers in the internet world.

o Be sure to express to your children how dangerous it is to flirt with strangers on the internet. You never really know who you are communicating with. It is better to take precautions with your children then to have them become a victim. If they feel something is not kosher with one of their “friends” they need to tell you right away, report it to the police and your internet provider. Stress that they could not only be saving themself, but also others from meeting with harm down the road with this person.

o If you are concerned or uncertain about your child’s online behavior search the sites they are visiting and check out the information they are posting. Just as your child can sense something might be wrong, so can a parent. It is better that you do your due diligence as a parent than to wait and be sorry if something happens to your child.

As a final note perform your own searches. Try to find your child’s identity online by their name, nickname, school, hobbies or your geographical location.

To find encouragement, tips and inspiration please visit http://judyconway.com.

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