It Could Happen to Your Kids Too Many parents understand that there are Safety issues out there but they feel that they their children are somehow invincible and that the stories they hear are only applicable to other children. Unfortunately, reality shows different facts. Regardless of background or education kids are getting involved with activities like cyberbullying or being attracted by online predators - and often they don't even know what they have gotten in to. According to iSAFE 58% of kids admit someone has said mean or hurtful things to them online and 53% admit having said mean or hurtful things to other kids. The Internet is the new playground for bullying and and there are no off hours. So, I challenge parents to start NOW and take the next step to understand that their children are vulnerable and educate themselves and their children. Check out the full article hereto learn the basics about cyberbullying and how to protect your child.
Facebook is the largest social networking site on the Internet where people share personal info and photos, play games, plan events and engage in live chat. Facebook represents a virtual world online where people can do just about everything they can do in the physical world, removing the actual physical presence.
Although there are many benefits to this online world such as positive social interaction, the ability to keep up with vast amounts of people, self expression and civic engagements, there are dangers as well. As parents we need to educate our children about these dangers to help protect them.
Let's review some of them here:
1) Harassment - Example - "I hate you, you're a pig" is posted on your son's Facebook page for everyone to see.
2) Viral spread of personal info - Example - Son posts a party picture and his online friend shares with the school counselor.
3) Detachment from the physical world - Example - Son spends too much time on the Internet and loses touch with real world: schoolwork, sports, family etc.
4) Geo Location Applications - Example - Facebook Places is enabled and your son checks in when he goes places, showing people where he is.
5) Inappropriate Contact - Example - Your son receives a friend request from someone he does not know and accepts because he wants a lot of friends.
Here are some ways to protect your child from the risks listed above:
1) Talk to them about Cyberbullying. Let them know it is not okay and that you are there to help. No matter what.
2) Explain that they are trusting every friend they choose with their personal info and to choose friends and content to be posted wisely.
3) Limit your child's time online.
4) Review privacy settings to ensure that no geo location features are enabled and they are not sharing their information with friends of friends.
5) Tell them to only accept friends the know in the real world and make sure people are who they say they are.
Finally, education is only the first step. Children need to be guided and monitored as they grow to keep them in check, and watch out for them. Consider installing software that monitors your child's behavior online.
For a more in-depth review of Facebook and how to protect your child please see "A Parent's Guide to Facebook" written by Anne Collier and Larry Magid, Co-Directors of ConnectSafely.org