Social networking websites, such as MySpace, Facebook and numerous chat rooms are becoming more and more popular for children of all ages. My parents, co-workers, and younger cousins are all hooked on chatting, sharing Facebook quiz results, and uploading new photos to share with their friends. Social networking websites have numerous benefits, but these websites can also be a potential danger to young children and teens. Some potential dangers that parents and children should keep an eye out for are online predators, scams and privacy issues.
When I was in high school, I couldn't wait to log on to MySpace to chat with friends and meet new people. Since my parents monitored my internet usage at home, I would generally log into my social networking account at school. During one on-line chat session, I gave out my phone number to a supposed friend of a friend. I thought giving out my phone number wasn't a big deal, since I had never met anyone I talked to online in person before. However, I soon learned that giving out my phone number was a BIG mistake. I ended up getting numerous phone calls and voice mail messages, even after I found out this person didn't know any of my friends. This incident made me realize that I needed to change my MySpace profile to private, so only my high school friends could access my information. Like me, millions of girls don't see an immediate risk in posting personal information and suggestive photographs. To learn more about what your social networking account should not look like, please check out "Millions of girls using Facebook, Bebo and MySpace 'at risk' from paedophiles and bullies."
Should parents ban social networking websites? Should parents install spyware software or check their child's internet history? Instead of banning social networking websites in the home, parents can encourage children and teens to only list basic information. If you have a social networking website or are thinking about creating one, please do not list personal information such as your home address, telephone number and school name or address. Please check out "7 Ways to Protect Your Kids on the Internet" to learn more about internet safety.
Aside from online predators, children as well as adults should limit their personal information or set their profiles to private, because scammers may try to steal and use personal information. Photos and status updates may also reflect badly on the user when looking for employment or applying for college. To read more on how your profile can affect your life, please read "The 5 Facebook Dangers: Perils That Have Nothing To Do With Internet Predators."
Although social networking sites can be fun and useful, we must remember that everyone can see what we are doing online. Please talk to your children about internet safety and check out the Girl Scouts Internet Safety Pledge.
Girl Museum Inc.