Online Safety for Kids

By: Steve Cownley

Social Networking Safety

Within the past few years, Social Networking has exploded and lots of children and teenagers are using it. Sites like MySpace and Facebook are used to get people to swap personal information about each other.

They can also share pictures, videos and whatever else they may think people want to know about them. Even with social networking, a child can still get trapped into

Believe it or not, there are some social networking sites that look for children as young as 6 years old. Even though some of these sites are not as advanced as MySpace and Facebook, it's still important for parents to be mindful of what their child is doing online at that age.

If parents need more information, they can always refer to COPPA , the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. This Act spells out how a child's privacy should be protected online. It goes into detail of what website owners are required to do, and what parents are required to do.

Parents can also do other things to keep their children safe with social networking sites:

&bullParents should be mindful of how their children are getting online access. Some children will use their cell phone to access the internet. As a parent, you have the right to protect your children as much as possible. So if it means blocking internet access on the cell phone, then so be it.

&bullIf you have children that are just starting school, like 6 or 7 years old, it is imperative that parents protect and watch them online as much as possible. This is the age when they start to become inquisitive and if parents aren't watching, they can and will get into anything. For children this age, the best thing to do is to sit there with them during the entire session.

&bullParents should be a shadow for their children online. Let them know that you will be watching them and their social networking encounters. Parents should also be mindful of what "friends" they meet on these social networking sites. They could be predators in disguise.

&bullParents should let their children know not to post any private information online. They should not post anything where anyone can access it. Identity theft is running rampant, and people will do anything to get what they want. It is also advisable to be careful of what pictures are posted on these sites.

Steve Cownley

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