A Parent's Guide: Social Networking Do's & Don'ts

How to safely navigate the Internet waters with your children.

A Parent’s Guide: Social Networking Do’s & Don’ts

How to safely navigate the Internet waters with your children.

-Melissa Stanton

Girl laptop

Like it or not, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites are a part of our kids’ lives. The following are some pointers for keeping your children – not matter how old they are – safe.

Read How Young is Too Young for Facebook?

Following are expert and parental tips for setting up a child’s social networking account:

• Choose an appropriate (i.e. not provocative) user name that doesn’t identify the child.

• Never reveal private information in a public online forum, such as by posting a home address or school name. It’s also not a great idea to publicly post a child’s birthday information.

• Create strong passwords using small and capital letters, symbols and numbers. To make this easy, Internet safety expert Linda Criddle recommends text messaging-style passwords, like “2B-or-Not-2B?”

• Tell your child that he or she should never share his or her passwords, even with their best friend. (However, as the parent, you should know your child’s passwords and require that he or she accept you as an online friend.)

• Make sure the child understands the terms and conditions of the service being used.

• Know how to set and manage the privacy settings.

• Teach your child to make good choices about the people he or she accepts as online friends and the information shared in images and text.

• Enable your child to identify social spam and how to test the safety of a link for viruses and other risks before clicking on it.

• Teach your child how to block and report an abusive user.

Melissa Stanton is the author of The Stay-at-Home Survival Guide: Field-tested strategies for staying smart, sane, and connected while caring for your kids (Seal Press/Perseus Books). She and Internet-safety expert Linda Criddle are each working on chapters for the upcoming anthology Courageous Parenting, to be edited by Amy Tiemann and published in March by Spark Press. For more information, visit Melissa’s website at www.RealLifeSupportForMoms.com.

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