Keep your children safe on social networks

Update: Here is a great article on what NOT to post online.

Social networks like facebook, MXit and twitter allow us to talk to all sorts of people all over the world. A lot of the time, people use pseudonyms and don’t give their real names. While this is good because we can remain anonymous, it also means that some people, especially children are more vulnerable to exploitation.

So how can you keep your children safe? It’s important to be aware of what your kids see and hear online, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. Tell your children that people online might not be who they say they are and could be dangerous. They should also be aware that any personal information they give out can be used for bullying or scams. Agree on some rules for online behavior. Monitor your child’s use of mobile phones/internet; and use parental control software where available.
When making a set of rules for using the internet or mobile phone, include your child. Being involved will help them understand the dangers and give them a sense of responsibility.
Here are some guidelines for agreed rules for online behavior:
1.   I will not give out personal information (name, address)
2.   I will tell my parents/an adult if I come across something that makes me feel uncomfortable.
3.   I will never get together with someone I “meet” online without first checking with my parents. If they agree, it will be in a public place.
4.   I will never send a person my picture or anything else personal.
5.   I will not give out my passwords to anyone.
6.   I will check with my parents before downloading or installing software
7.   I will be a good online citizen and not do anything that hurts other people or is illegal.
The best way to keep your child safe online is to get online yourself to learn how they use technology.
Get onto facebook, MXit and bbm and it will help you to understand your children’s communication needs and how to be more savvy about the dangers they face.
– originally written for the Daily Voice –