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Here is an article I came across on one of my favourite websites.  Thought you might enjoy and benefit from it… Cheers JH

MySpace and Facebook Safety, 101

(from www.fatherhood.org)

More than half of all youth (ages 12-17) who are on the Internet are on social networking sites like MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook. Chances are, your teen is one of them. The older your teen is, the more likely they are to use these sites, and girls are more likely than boys to join in on this craze.

While most teens use these websites properly, there have been far too many incidents reported in the news lately of teens getting themselves into a lot of trouble by misusing the sites. By either networking with the wrong people or publishing damaging information or pictures about themselves online, some teens have jeopardized their future college and career plans. Some have even been victims of crimes. Dad, it is your job to help your teens make good decisions when using these social networking sites.

Talk to your kids about MySpace and Facebook . Teens often have difficulty connecting their actions to consequences. Many teens probably aren’t aware of the consequences of posting private information or pictures on their site. Have a conversation with them about who can see what, and what is appropriate to publish. Here’s a good rule: once it is posted online, assume that everyone in the world can see it. Don’t scare them, but make them aware of crimes that have occurred based on information posted on these site, and that predators do use these sites.

Get yourself a profile! The best way to keep your child safe is to dive right in and make a profile for yourself. Create your profile when your children create theirs, and then become their “friend” (someone who can view their profile) through the site so you can see what activities your children are engaged in. So that your kids don’t feel like you are snooping or invading their privacy, be sure to tell them you have a profile. As your teen gets older or after they have been on the site for a certain period of time and you trust them to use it properly, you may not need to monitor them this closely. It is your call, dad, as to how long you want to do this.

Put the computer in a shared space in your house. Rather than letting your teen have a computer with Internet access in their bedroom, make sure that the only Internet-enabled computer in the house is in a room where everyone can see it, like the family room or the living room. Having it out in the open will discourage your teens from engaging in risky online activities.

Limit time spent on the Internet. Limiting the amount of time your children spend on the Internet has many benefits. Not only will they have less time to spend on questionable sites, but you’ll also be encouraging them to be more active, to interact with their friends “in real life,” and to focus their energy on school work, clubs, sports, and other enriching activities.

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