1) Find Your Teen’s Profile.
Simply ask your kids if they have a profile, because you want to make
sure they are safe. You are entitled to know and the best way to find
out is by asking your kids. You want to see them all, not just one (and
let them know the consequences of lying). Giving them a day to clean
up their profile will allow them to cleanse it if they have information or pictures posted that tell too much about themselves. 2) Tailor the Profile to Fit Needs.
You need to understand why your child has a profile. Once you know why
your child is on the site, you can make sure they are only giving the
information they need to. Ask why they have it? Knowing why your
child is interacting online will help you guide them and make sure
they're not taking unnecessary risks. If it's to communicate with kids
from camp, then there's no need for them to post information about
where they live, or anything that a predator could use to find them.
Their friends already know what they look like and where they live. If
it's to advertise a band or a cause, then your children may have to give
out more information, but they can keep the information specific to
their goals. 3) Follow the 4 Ps.
Don't let your child post anything publicly that parents, principals,
predators or the police should not see. Remember—what you post on the
Internet stays there forever. Let your children know that it may affect
whether they get into college or get a job. Make sure your children use
the most restrictive privacy settings available on the social
networking site where they have a personal profile.
view their children’s MySpace.com and Facebook.com accounts. Online
accounts are not an appropriate place for a child or teenager to have
interactions with people they do not completely know and trust. These
accounts should be private, open only to trusted friends. If accounts
are unrestricted, predators will have access to the teens’ personal
allow your children to restrict access to their profiles to friends
only. However, you also have to make sure no one slips in the back door.
Anyone can request that your child make him/her a friend. Only allow
your kids to have their real-life friends as Internet buddies — the
people you know about. The only exception
be if your child is trying to advertise a band or an event. Then he or
she will need to let everyone see it. But your child doesn't need to
give personal information out. Make sure what is put out isn't anything
you don't want a stranger to know. Chat rooms also have risks.
One expert said going into chat rooms is a little like going to a party
where sexual predators, criminals and disrespectful people will be
mixed in with the wholesome, clean-cut people. The biggest difference
is that at the chat room party everyone looks the same—it is hard to
recognize the foxes. 4) Do Online Snooping.
Snoop on your children—parents are allowed to do that. Follow the
trail of cyber breadcrumbs. Look at their profiles regularly, and click
on their friends' profiles. You want to see both what your child and
her friends are saying. Often, it's your child's friends who are posting
pictures of them that shouldn't be online, or giving details about
their lives that could make them vulnerable. Also, click on the links your child is following.
You want to know what they're looking at so you can stop them if
they're going to dangerous sites. You also need to make sure your kids
aren't hiding a profile. 5) If your kids are 13 years old or younger,
they should NOT have access to Myspace or Facebook at all. These sites are illegal
for children that age, and it's just too dangerous to let them go on. As an alternative
, kids can join http://clubpenguin.com
, which is a part of the Walt Disney Company, the parent company of ABC News, or http://webkinz.com
which are social sites for children. Parents can also block younger
kids from other sites with a good parental control program like McAfee