FACEBOOK AND CHILDREN – YOU REALLY NEED TO BE AWARE

I am growing more and more concerned about the possibly harmful things children are doing online. I am especially worried about the fact that many parents do not know what is going on. Yesterday I spoke with a school counselor that told me maybe 5% of the parents at his school knows what their kids are doing online. He shared a true story with me about a girl in the 5th grade…10 years old. This child was coordinating a fight party using her Facebook account. Her mom just happened to walk by the computer and asked to see what she was doing. Even thought it was in English, the parent really did not understand what she was reading. The girl knew her mom would not be able decipher the acronyms that some kids use today when texting or posting online.

Do you have a child that uses Facebook? Are you comfortable with what your child is posting? Do you even know what is being posted? Yes, there are much worse things your child could be doing than using their Facebook account to post objectionable text or pictures. However, there are some young people who did not get a certain job, get into a particular college, are ridiculed at school or are dead because of something that initially started out on a social networking site.

As a parent, it is your responsibility to make sure that your child stays safe online. To do this, you must know your way around a computer and the Internet. It’s no longer acceptable to say, “I don’t know what’s going on. We did not have all this technology when I was growing up.” You should want to know, learn and stay current.

Talk to your children about what is okay to post online and what is not okay. Let them know that everyone they meet online MAY not be who they claim to be. Your children should be aware that once you post something online, it never really goes away.

Even if everything posted by your child is perfectly fine, there still should be some concern about privacy settings and controlling what other people can see, even friends. Please click on the link below for excellent information about Facebook privacy settings.

http://www.connectsafely.org/Safety-Advice-Articles/facebook-privacy-chart-for-teens.html

The best parental control starts with having a great relationship with your child and open communication. For those that want to go a step further and look into digital parental control options, these links may be helpful.

http://www.gogostat.com/pg

http://www.socialshield.com/

http://www.safesocial.com/

KNOW THE LINGO

Even if you decide to monitor your child’s online activity, what’s the point if you do not understand what you are reading? The link below contains many of the acronyms that children are currently using.

http://www.netlingo.com/acronyms.php

Know, stay informed and stay safe.

John L. Jones

jones.johnlee@gmail.com

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