Networking and Personal Web Sites
What They Are
Social networking sites, like MySpace and Facebook, are some of
the most popular sites visited by tweens, teens and 20-somethings.
These sites allow users to post information about themselves,
use blogs, chat rooms, e-mails and instant messaging. It connects
users with friends new and old and is meant to broaden social
circles. But it also increases exposure to sexual predators,
scam artists, and hackers. Social networking sites rely on connections
and communication, and therefore, encourage users to provide
an abundance of personal information—information that can
be used to steal someone's identity, attract sexual predators,
or encourage online bullying.
But you can protect yourself and your children by following these
guidelines when visiting social networking sites:
Socialize Safely Online
- Keep the computer in an open
area, so you can keep an eye on what your child is viewing.
to your kids about online habits. Explain to them why it's
important to keep information like their name, social security
numbers, address, phone number, and financial
to themselves. It is also important to make children understand
that sharing other information, such as the name of their school,
sports teams, clubs, and where they work or hang out could be used
as identifiers to figure out who they are and where they can be
- Make sure screen names do not reveal too much. Using a full
name, age or hometown in their screen name offers easy identifiers
for predators. Picking anonymous names is much safer.
privacy settings to restrict who has access to post on your child's
web site. Many people can see their page, including teachers,
police, college admissions officers
or a potential employer.
your children that once they post information online, they cannot
take it back. Even if they delete it from
a site, older
versions exist in other people's computers.
- Warn your children of the dangers of flirting with strangers
- Use blocking and filtering software.
child sexual solicitations to National Center for Missing and Exploited
Children's Cyber Tipline (http://www.cybertipline.com) or
by calling 1-800-843-5678. Reports made to the Cyber Tipline are
forwarded to the FBI, the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement,
and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Information is also forwarded
to the pertinent state and local authorities, and when appropriate,
to the Internet Service Provider. For more information, see www.cybertipline.com/en_US/documents/CyberTiplineFactSheet.pdf.