Internet Safety (Not Again!!!!)

Internet safety is hardly a new topic up for discussion. However, as the internet and social networking sites become ever more ingrained into our society, it sometimes seems that internet safety falls by the wayside. Internet safety isn’t just about avoiding predators anymore. It’s also about protecting the image that your online presence suggests about you. This online presence can be viewed by potential bosses, college professors, political opponents, and other important and influential people. To protect your child’s online image, have a discussion with them about what privacy settings they have on their Twitter or Facebook. Have a discussion about what kinds of pictures are appropriate to post, and what kinds of things it’s appropriate to say on social media sites. The fallout from inappropriate online behavior doesn’t just stay online, and children need to be made aware of that.

The following are some safety tips for you and your child when using the internet, with a special focus on social networking.

  • Never post anything online that you wouldn’t feel comfortable with your boss/parents/other figures of authority seeing. This means everything from your latest tweet to your Facebook profile picture.
  • Put your privacy settings as high as they can go. At the very least, make sure that if people search you on Facebook they can only see your name and profile picture. You wouldn’t let a stranger into your house if you didn’t know them, so don’t give online strangers access to extremely personal information that could be used in a negative manner!
  • Even if you do have privacy settings, you still need to be conscious of what you’re posting.
  • Make sure you know everyone you’re friends with on Facebook. Just because someone is a friend of a friend of a friend doesn’t mean that they’re you’re friend. You can be judged on the people you’re friends with on Facebook, so be smart!
  • If something feels uncomfortable online, don’t get involved!
As one final safety tip for parents, watch out for your child accessing random chat websites, such as Chat Roulette or omegle. These sites connect your child to complete strangers, often in extremely inappropriate ways, through either text or video chat. The best thing parents can do is have honest discussions with their children about online behaviors and the way it can impact them. The internet is a great way to connect with others, but needs to be used safely!

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