Much has been written about social networking both its pitfalls and promise. What has often been an opportunity to reconnect with old friends or stay in touch with family across the miles, has now morphed into a huge communications system that if not used appropriately, could seriously impair everything social from relationships, business, politics and world security. It is difficult enough for adults to act responsibly on the world wide web. But our young people who are influenced by the instant gratification and appeal of online networking are at risk of being both victim to and perpetrator of unscrupulous behavior.
Middle and high school aged children can obtain and share all kinds of info on the internet, including tremendous amounts of personal information. Since kids are often trying to catch the attention of and gain approval from their peers, some teens tend to post content to gain popularity or acceptance from others in their online community. Online, teens regularly compete for social status, post provocative, inappropriate pictures of themselves (or others), share details of their weekend’s adventures, and can easily use this digital space to humiliate, bully or threaten others. The severity of such content has spurred a number of laws that make posting some content illegal, with criminal offenses that result in fines to incarceration.
No information is truly private in the online world; an online “friend” can forward any information posted on your child’s site in a moment. To put it bluntly, the internet is neither anonymous or friendly to vulnerable young people.
What can parents and other caring, trusting adults work do to ensure our children are using the internet safely and responsibly without being overwhelmed by all the info out there and where to begin? Below are a couple of links to excellent resources on cyber safety.
- National Children’s Advocacy Center has resources for parents, kids, teens and professionals.
- Internet Safety 101
- NoBullying.com identifies its top five internet safety websites
Perhaps the best tool you have to keep your kids safe is YOU. Don’t be afraid to get on your teen’s social media sites. Let them know you will be looking at it from time to time. Request their password. Make sure you know how to block users and content not appropriate. Also, make sure you are familiar with what your child’s school is doing to ensure internet safety. Be sure to check out the websites above!
Glass Doctor Raleigh cares about our community! We will continue to share information of interest which promotes the health and well-being of our neighbors through our social media sites.