Children and Social Networks on the Internet

Teens and pre-teens socialize online through social networking sites, chat rooms, virtual worlds and blogs; It is important that you help your child learn to navigate these places safely.

Among the dangers that socializing on the internet entails can be the fact of sharing too much information, or posting comments, photos or videos that can damage the reputation or hurt the feelings of another person.

Applying the same criteria that apply in real life can help minimize those risks.

  • Remind kids that their internet actions have consequences
  • Tell the kids to limit the type of information they share
  • Encourage good manners on the internet
  • Limit access to your children’s profiles
  • Talk with the kids about what they do on the internet


Remind kids that their internet actions have consequences

Remind kids that their internet actions have consequences

The words that children write and the images that they upload to the sites have consequences outside the internet.

Children should publish only that which does not bother them that is seen by other people.

A part of your child’s profile can be seen by a larger audience than you or he or she wants, even if the security features are at a high level. Encourage your child to reflect on the type of language he uses on the internet and to think before uploading photographs and videos to his page or alter photos uploaded by another person. Employers, college admissions officers, sports coaches, teachers, and the police can see what your child puts on the internet.

Remind your children that the information they post online can not be deleted.

Even if you delete the information from a site, you will have very little control over the old versions that are registered in the computers of other people who can circulate them online.

Tell your children not to pretend to be someone else.

Explain to your children that it is inappropriate to create sites, pages or upload material that appears to belong to another person, such as a teacher, a classmate or an invented character.


Tell the kids to limit the type of information they share

Tell the kids to limit the type of information they share

Help your children understand what personal data should remain private.

Explain to your children the importance of not disclosing information about themselves, their family members and their friends. The Social Security number, address, telephone number and family financial information-number of bank accounts or credit cards-are some examples of private information and should follow.

Talk with your children about avoiding sexual content conversations on the internet.

The results of the research show that adolescents who do not talk about sex with strangers are less likely to come into contact with bullies or abusers. In fact, researchers have found that stalkers usually do not pass themselves off as children or teenagers, and that most teenagers who are contacted by unfamiliar adults see it as a chilling situation. Teens must ignore or block these types of individuals without hesitation.


Encourage good manners on the internet

Encourage good manners on the internet

Good education is important.

You teach your children to act with education in the real world; Talk to them about the importance of being friendly and well educated also on the internet. The exchange of text messages may seem quick and impersonal, but even so, text messages are commonly used as “porfi” or “grcs” (for short please and thank you).

Lowering the tone

Writing text messages filled with capital letters, or long rows of exclamation marks, or using large and prominent letters is like shouting. Most people do not like to be talked to screaming.

Use Cc: and “Reply all” carefully.

Recommend to your children that they resist the temptation to send a message to each and every one of the contacts on their list.


Limit access to your children’s profiles

Limit access to your children

Use the privacy functions.

Several social networking websites and chat rooms offer adjustable privacy features, this allows you to restrict access to your children’s profiles. Talk with your children about the importance of these privacy features and their expectations regarding people who should be allowed to see their profiles.

Set the privacy options of your children’s chat and video accounts to a high level. Many of the chat programs offer a function for parents to decide if the people listed on their child’s contact list can see their status, even if they can know if they are connected. Some chat and email accounts allow parents to determine who can send messages to their children and can block anyone who is not on the list.

Ask your children to create a secure screen name.

Encourage your children to think about the impression that screen names can cause. A good screen name should not reveal too much information about your age, your place of residence or your gender. For security reasons, the names your children use for chat should not be the same as their email addresses.

Check your child’s list of friends.

You may want to limit the list of “friends” online to those people your child really knows.


Talk with the kids about what they do on the internet

Talk with the kids about what they do on the internet

Find out what your children are doing.

Familiarize yourself with the social networking sites your children use to understand their activities. If you are worried because you think your child is acting risky when you are online, you can explore the social networking sites you frequent to see what kind of information you are placing. Are they pretending to be another? Try searching by your child’s name or nickname, school, favorite hobbies, grade level or neighborhood.

Ask your children who they communicate with on the internet.

Just as you want to know who your children’s friends are in the real world, it’s a good idea to find out who they’re talking to online.

Encourage your kids to trust their instincts when they have a suspicion.

Encourage them to tell you if they feel threatened by someone or feel uncomfortable with something they see on the internet. You can help them report their concerns to the police and social media site. Most of these sites include links so that users can immediately report abusive, suspicious or inappropriate behavior.

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