Tip: Kids and the Dangers of Social Networking

Social networking sites have morphed into a mainstream medium for kids and adults. (See advice for adults in the forthcoming July OUCH!) These sites encourage and enable people to exchange information about themselves, share pictures and videos, and use blogs and messaging to communicate with friends and sometimes even the world-at-large. While parents may feel outpaced by their technologically savvy kids, there are security lessons that parents can teach their kids. Here are eight tips to make your kids safer social networkers.

* Help your kids understand what information should be private. Tell them why it’s important to keep some information about themselves to themselves, such as their full name, Social Security number, street address, phone number, and personal and family financial information. Screen names, too, should not give away personal information.

* Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your child’s website or Facebook page. Some social networking sites have strong privacy settings. Show your child how to use these settings.

* Explain that kids should post only information that both you and they are comfortable with others seeing. Even if privacy settings are turned on, some – or even all – of your child’s profile may be seen by strangers. Encourage kids to think about the impression that screen names make.

* Remind your kids that once they post information online, they can’t take it back. Even if they delete the information from a site, older versions may be stored on other people’s computers or in Web archives and can be circulated online.

* Know how your kids are getting online. More and more, kids are accessing the Internet through their cell phones. Find out what limits you can place on your child’s cell phone and how secure it is. Some cellular companies have plans that limit downloads, Internet access, and texting by quantity and time of day.

* Talk to your kids about bullying. Online bullying can take many forms, from spreading rumors online and posting or forwarding private messages without the sender’s OK, to sending threatening messages. Encourage your kids to talk to you if they feel targeted by a bully.

* Talk to your kids about avoiding sex talk online. Recent research shows that teens who don’t talk about sex with strangers online are less likely to come in contact with a predator.

* Tell your kids to trust their gut if they have suspicions. If they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, encourage them to tell you. You can then help them report concerns to the police and to the social networking site. Most sites have links where users can immediately report abusive, suspicious, or inappropriate online behavior.

* Read sites’ privacy policies. Spend some time with a site’s privacy policy, FAQs, and parent sections to understand its features and privacy controls. The site should spell out your rights as a parent to review and delete your child’s profile.

More information:http://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/social-networking-sites.aspx




Extracted from the OUCH newsletter https://www.sans.org/newsletters/ouch