Sue Scheff: Social Networking Safety – Crash Course 101

As the World Wide Web grows at an ever expanding pace, it is up to us to keep up with the changes as well as keep our lives safe virtually.  Being virtually safe can literally lead to being physically safe.  Chat rooms are dangerous places for adult, not to mention  children.  Meeting people online can be fun, but it can also be misleading.

Keep in mind when online the following tips, consider it Social Networking 101 crash course.

  1. Use privacy settings. This is a no-brainer.  Keep the strangers out of your profiles and photos.  Don’t make yourself an easy target for predators and for bullying.  Check your privacy settings weekly to be sure they haven’t changed.
  2. Think before you post. In the same respect, think before you hit send.  Imagine a teacher, a parent, a family member, college admissions, potential employer seeing this post and consider whether it is appropriate or not.
  3. Trust your gut. If someone is bothering you, block them.  If you have suspicions, feel threatened, unsafe or uncomfortable, notify the site owner and tell an adult you trust.  You can also contact www.cybertipline.com for more help.
  4. Check it out. See what others are posting online about you.  Google yourself.  Even though you are careful, others may not be.  Hurt can come from friends as well as from strangers.
  5. Be savvy.  People you meet online might not be whom they say. Meeting an online ‘friend’ in person only makes sense if you’ve told a trusted adult, it’s in a public place, and you’ve got friends with you.
  6. Don’t get duped. Ads and messages making offers that are too good to be true?  Spam. Requests for personal account information?  Phishing scams.  Mark bogus friend requests as spam.  Don’t get sucked in.
  7. Be part of the solution. Don’t use your space to trash talk others. Close out any account and services you no longer use.  Promote a culture of self-monitoring so others won’t be so tempted to step in and restrict teen access.   You have the power to improve your online community!

Need more resources to help you further?  Visit Social Networking Safety Group and CyberSafeFamily Group on Facebook.

Order Google Bomb book for more valuable information about maintaining your virtual reputation.

In Broward County there is an Internet Safety website to give you more tips and resources to keep you and your family safe in cyberspace.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer teens.

Read more.

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