Social networking sites are online gathering places where members share news, information, socialize and gossip. While there is no age limit for being on the Internet, sites such as Facebook do have age restrictions. While Facebook requires a minimum age of 13 for engagement, half of all 12-year olds in the U.S. actively engage on the site. Young users are susceptible to extreme risks including cyber bullying, cyber-stalking, identity theft and exposure to inappropriate content.
The following tips can help keep your children safe when on the Internet:
- Use parental controls to monitor your child’s web activity
- Keep computers in family locations. Computers in bedrooms invite secretive activity
- Research the websites your child is engaging in. Make yourself aware of the privacy policies
- Create and share ‘internet rules.’ Rules should prohibit the sharing of personal information, pictures, name, address and any personal accounts
- Monitor your child’s friend list
- Discuss cyber-bullying with your child. Help them identify the risks of engaging as well as the importance of such activities
- Stress that your child be wary of strangers online
- Teach them to be discreet about the information they post online. They should never share contact information such as addresses and mobile phone numbers.