ONLINE SAFETY TIPS
Provided by Parry Aftab of WiredSafety.org.
• Don't Panic! Your kids can use social networks safely.
• Talk to Your Kids. The more you go over what should and shouldn't be shared online, the safer your kids will be.
• Repeat after me" "I am the parent!" Don't worry more about your kids' privacy than their safety. Set your rules and make your kids adhere to them. If they don't, turn off the Internet. They'll come around fast!
• It's not reading their diary: A diary is between your kid and the paper diary stored in their sock drawer. An open MySpace profile is the equivalent of a billboard on the superhighway. The rule is not that everyone can see it but parents.
• Don't believe everything you see online, especially if your kids post it on their MySpace. They say things designed to make them more cool or daring. Many post things that aren't true.
• Tell your kids you want to see their MySpace -- tomorrow. The day's notice will make this an educational experience for them, instead of a "gotcha"one. They will spend hours taking down anything they fear you will find objectionable. And learn from it. After the first warning, though, you are free to review it with them anytime.
• It takes a village: Wok with your school and other parents to help keep them all safer online.
Also, be aware that their friends frequently put them at risk unknowingly by posting too much of your kids' personal information on their own profiles.
Remove it: If you decide that your child's profile needs to come down, but they used a fake e-mail address when they set it up, you need a special process that MySpace worked out with WiredSafety.org. This procedure is needed because MySpace sends the codes you need to remove a profile to the e-mail address the kids used when they set up the account, many of which are faked by the kids.
• Don't post anything on your MySpace that your parents, principal and a predator shouldn't see. And check over your friends' profiles to make sure they're safe, too.
• Password protect everything and guard your password. MySpace gives special privacy controls to kids 14 and 15. Give your correct age, so you can be protected.
• Colleges and grad schools, and some scholarship committees and employers are searching for their applicants on sites such as MySpace. Are you really putting your best foot forward? Think of it as if you're attaching your MySpace to your college application.
• Morph or blur your pictures so a cyber-bully or predator can't misuse them. And get your friends' okay before posting their images on your MySpace.
• Don't do or say anything online that you wouldn't offline. Nothing is anonymous on MySpace. They can trace all comments and posts to your computer.
• What you post online stays online forever! Playing the drunken slut or posing with five bottles of beer in your mouth at the same time might have been a good idea at the time, but you never know who copied your post, cloned it, printed it out, or archived it. If you post it, you will have to live with it, maybe forever.
• That cute 14-year-old boy may not be cute, may not be 14 and may not be a boy! You never really know. ThinkB4uClick! And never go alone to an offline meeting.
• Think about joining TeenAngels.org and becoming part of the solution.