Communicate safely on social networking sites
In recent years, social networking sites have exploded on the internet scene. While many sites are aimed at a younger audience, even older users of the internet are taking advantage of one of the hottest new trends in communicating.
- Keep personal identifying information such as name, age, date of birth, address, phone number, photographs and school name off websites and social networking sites. When sending personal information, send it as a personal message rather than as a general comment. Comments are visible to everyone.
- Use gender and age neutral names when online. Use nicknames that are different from screen names.
- Be modest. Go slow. Flirting online is not advised.
- Be cautious when posting photos. Photos can be removed and used by third parties. Be mindful how a photo represents you.
- Immediately exit from conversations that make you feel uncomfortable or at risk. Do not worry about offending anyone and block this sender from future contact. Do not reply to glaring or harassing messages. Right and wrong is the same on the internet as it is in real life.
- Keep online friendships in the virtual world. Online friends may not be who they say they are.
- Stay in public areas of chat rooms. Stay out of private or whisper sessions. Do not get talked into web camera conversations with strangers.
- Parents should be an online guest and experience the sites and chat rooms that children visit.
- Know the user name and password for your child’s social networking sites and email accounts. View your child’s profile on a regular basis as everything on the internet is public and nothing stays confidential. Stress to children that the same rules apply to cell phones that have internet access.
- Always be involved in your family’s internet activities.