The names Twitter, Facebook, and My Space may not sound familiar to you ,but you can believe your kids have heard of them. These are 3 of the more popular social networking sites where kids like to hang out and chat with their peers. Social Networking is a great form of communication, but should also be used with caution.
I’ve put together 5 precautions you should advise your kids to take when using social networking to connect with their friends. No sense walking around with blinders on, there are just as many predators online as there are offline. We all want to maintain our kids innocence for as long as possible, but we must also teach them to be cautious and take certain precautions online.
Child predators are counting on their innocence as a way to trap them. Don’t scare your kids, but keep them informed and teach them to take certain safeguards.
1. Don’t give out any personal information to anyone. It’s nice to make new friends online, but it could be that your child’s new “friend” is a sexual predator. Sexual predators will try to win your childs trust and coax information out of them such as their name, phone number, or even the name and location of their school. Armed with this information the predator could possibly locate or stalk your child.
2. Don’t agree to meet with any online friends without parents present. Luring is the term used for online predators who use social networking to meet and talk kids into leaving their homes. It is harder to catch them if they convince your child to meet them somewhere instead of them showing up on your doorstep. When a friend wants to meet with your child, use your best judgment and always go along should you decide to let them meet someone they’ve met online.
3. Avoid sexual conversations. Sexual predators don’t start out talking about the subject of sex right away. They start by gaining their trust and then easing into such conversations. Teach your child not to discuss sex at all and never provide any explicit questionable photos of themselves.
4. Always be honest. Your child should never pretend to be someone they are not. Acting older will attract the wrong type of person and situations. Saying negative things about others could also attract the wrong type of people. Teach your children to remain respectful and honest at all times.
5. Never give out passwords. Your child should never share their passwords with others. A friend could use their password and log in pretending to be them in a chat room. It might seem like a harmless prank at first but could lead to major problems for your child. Someone who is mad at your child could use their profile and say or do bad things.
You want your child to stay a child as long as humanly possible. To that end, teach them practical online social networking safety tips to keep them safe and maintain their innocence.