Cybersafety, Privacy Online and Teens: The Conversation

TeensonlinefriendsParents know the things to do keep their kids safe around home, like keeping an eye on them outside, teaching them stranger danger and to travel in groups. But what about in the virtual world? It’s shown to be just as dangerous, and if certain information gets in the wrong hands, your child, your family, and your identity could all be at risk.

The Web offers a plethora of fun and educational things for kids to do, plus all the social networking that is huge for tweens and teens. But along with that comes plenty of places for danger. Just as parents need to talk to their kids about safety in the everyday real world, they also must discuss safety precautions related to the Internet, and make sure their kids get it.

What can parents do? How do they start the conversation? It is important to cover the dangers – all of them – in age-appropriate language to help kids understand the dangers of giving away information online.

Talk, Talk, Talk

The most important thing parents can do is talk to their kids, tweens, and teens. Make sure they know the dangers that are prevalent online, whether sexual predators, those that want to steal identities and financial information, and any other type of cybercriminal. Make sure to keep lines of communication open so kids feel comfortable talking about anything relating to the Internet that bothers them.

Set Clear Internet Rules

Depending on the kids’ ages, parents may have different rules. Young children should never even give out their name. Once kids get older and more into social media, reinforce the importance of careful posting and sharing – what goes on the Internet is there forever! Nothing personal should be posted or shared, like address, phone number, or credit card information.

Identity Theft

When it comes to personal information, it’s easier than most think to get other’s information. If a site looks fishy, it probably is. Parents need to make sure their kids understand to never give out personal information like credit card numbers, bank accounts, or social security numbers without parental permission, even if they are buying something.

If a child sees something like “accepts credit cards” or “enter information here,” he needs to let a parent know and stop what he’s doing. Once credit card information or other personal numbers are in the hands of others, it’s tough to reverse the damage. The best rule is never give it out.

How to Start This Conversation

Start talking about Internet safety when kids are young. Keep the computer in family areas so activity can be monitored. As kids get older, reinforce these topics. Let them know age-appropriate instances of what can happen if things like cyberbullying or credit card theft happen. Parents need to let children know that they are always available, even if mistakes are made, so they can solve things together.

The bottom line is: Don’t give out information! Whether it’s social, personal, or financial, kids need to keep this to themselves. Parents should stay tuned in to not only what goes in the world of online security, but also what their kids are doing online. Awareness is key. And, parents, keep reinforcing how important it is to your kids!

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Facebook and Tweens: What is Age Appropriate?

FB55This is a question that has been lingering for the past couple of years.  We know that kids under 13 are joining, but should they be?

The brave new world of technology has expanded so far that even your grandmother may have an account on the social networking clearinghouse that is Facebook. The fact that your elderly relatives have adopted Facebook, however, doesn’t mean that your child is ready to tackle the social media giant. When your tween is pleading with you for permission to start a Facebook account and swearing that all of their friends have them, these are 10 of the reasons why you might want to stick to your guns and continue to ban the site for a few more years.

  1. Bullying – Being bullied is a devastating situation, even for teenagers and young adults, but tweens are even more likely to be overwhelmed by bullies online. Kids who aren’t victims of bullying may also find themselves joining in with the crowd picking on another youngster in the no-holds-barred world of the Internet.
  2. Exposure to Questionable Content – Even if your preteen is never approached by a sexual predator, she’s still likely to come across photos or status updates that simply aren’t age appropriate. A child who doesn’t have a Facebook account may be protected from that objectionable content for a bit longer, though.
  3. Online Predators – Sexual predators lurking online are such a problem that entire television series have been dedicated to sting operations designed to catch them. Preteens simply aren’t equipped to properly fend off approaches from predators, and may be more susceptible to their techniques than older kids.
  4. They’re Not Technically Allowed to Have Accounts – If you don’t prohibit Facebook use for your preteen for any other reason, you should consider the fact that allowing them to start an account is tantamount to telling them that it’s okay to lie. Facebook doesn’t allow users younger than 13, so your child will have to falsify her age in order to sign up. Doing so with your permission is effectively sending a message that lying is acceptable behavior if you’re lying to get something you really want.
  5. Reducing Screen Time – Between television, video games and time spent online for homework purposes, kids spend enough of their day planted in front of an electronic screen. Facebook is just another way for your child to while away the hours in sedentary activity, rather than getting outside and being active.
  6. Preserving Academic Performance – When your child is supposed to be online researching homework methods or studying for a big test, his shiny new Facebook account can be a very serious distraction. Kids so young may have difficulty controlling their impulses, and may spend far more time on the social media site than they do actually working.
  7. Protecting Your Computer from Malware – You and your teenagers may have a basic idea of how to avoid malware and spyware sent out by unscrupulous Facebook users, but your tween probably doesn’t. Keeping your child off of social media for a few more years can also be your computer’s saving grace.
  8. Because Kids Lack Adult Judgment – The fact that college students post photographs of binge drinking parties and incriminating status updates at an alarming rate is proof that young people don’t always have the best judgment when it comes to social networking. For a young child, not understanding acceptable Facebook use could lead to them sharing very sensitive personal information that later proves to be dangerous.
  9. Friends Lists Can Be Difficult to Manage – When the friend requests start rolling in, your tween will probably accept each and every one of them because it makes her feel well-liked and cool. That can give some shady characters access to her profile, something she may have trouble understanding when she’s still so young.
  10. Tech-Savvy Tweens Can Block Your Monitoring Efforts – Some preteens may have trouble avoiding malware and managing a friends list, but others will be tech-savvy enough to filter their updates and change security settings that affect what you’re able to see. Even if you think you’re monitoring your child, you may only be seeing a fraction of the things she does online.

If you still think that your preteen is mature and trustworthy enough to have a Facebook account without getting into trouble, the decision is up to you. Be warned, however, that your child could find all of her hYoursphere1ard work tossed to the wayside if Facebook administrators discover that she’s maintaining an account before she’s reached the age limit set in the terms of use and decide to delete the account.

Source:  Babysitting Jobs

Need a great alternative to Facebook for tweens?  Check out Yoursphere!  It is designed for that age group where safety for your child is their priority!

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