I’ve been a member of multiple social networking sites for over 6 years and I’ve seen some of the dangers they can introduce to children. Most kids have myspace pages to keep in touch with friends from school and to be part of the new rage on the internet. Social networking sites can be a wonderful tool to keep in touch with friends, family or to find old friends you may have lost contact with. Since myspace and facebook have become so popular, however, they have become more dangerous for children under the age of 18. There are sexual predators, porn “bots”, and just down right mean people on these pages. There are ways to keep your child safe from these people and online filth.
If your child is under the age of 13 they should not have a social networking profile. There is no reason a child under the age of 13 would need to have access to the things that are introduced to them on these types of websites. Most children under this age don’t have friends that live far away and probably don’t have a long lost friend that they’d love to talk to again. Children this young should be outside playing and not rotting their brains away sitting infront of a computer. Your child may beg you to have one of these profiles but I would highly suggest against it.
Kids between the ages of 13 and 15 really shouldn’t be on social networking websites either but they do have the minimum sign up age as 13 for most sites. If you are allowing your child to have one of these profiles be prepared. Your child’s inbox will be filled with friend requests from people they do not know and most of these friend requests come from “bots” and not real people. These bots are computer generated profiles that people use to hack into your page and use your page as an advertisement for a product or porn. Then there are porn sites that create profiles with pictures of a normal looking person and the page is filled with filth and links for trial access to porn sites. How would you like your child to accept a friend request from someone and click on a link that they think is harmless and then be directed to a site that shows clips of sexual videos and nude girls? That is not something I would like my 13 year old child to see. Advise your child that they should never accept a friend request from someone they don’t know. Explain to them that it can cause your computer to be invested with a virus that could cause the computer to never work again. For buying Instagram followers, the reputation of the websites should be considered through the person. The regular updating of the profile will offer ease and comfort to the person in the purchase of the real and active followers for the account.
Even friends of your child could have a profile that can be dangerous, so its not safe to assume that just because the friends your child has on their social networking profile are people you know that they can’t harm your child. Children can be mean to each other and your child might be a victim of bullying and might not want to tell you about it. There have been stories about children committing suicide because of comments that were left on blogs and bulletin posts about them. The early teen years is a tough time and hormones are changing and your child may feel depressed and the comments some children will make may just push your child over the edge. Always be open with your child for conversations. Ask them how school is, ask about their friends and watch for mood changes. If your child is a victim of bullying then you will probably notice some changes in their behavior. It is a good idea to get your own social networking page so you can log in and look at your child’s friends pages to see if there is any bullying or trash talking about your child. If you find something you don’t like then ask your child to talk to you about it and have you child delete them from their friends. If the bullying happens in school as well then set up a parent teacher conference to see what can be done about preventing the bullying.
Not everyone on social networking sites are honest. People are able to look up pictures on search engines and download them and upload those pictures as their own on a social networking site. They can lie about their age and location. Advise your child of this and make sure they understand that there are bad people in the world and they should never agree to meet up with someone they don’t know. If your child really wants to meet someone they’ve met on a social networking site then tell them that you will go with them. Have your child tell the person who wants to meet them that a parent will be with them and I guarantee that if the person is a sexual predator they will go MIA very quickly.
Make an agreement with your child that if they are going to have a social networking profile that you will have their username and password and will be checking their page to make sure that everything they are doing is safe. If your child doesn’t agree then don’t let them have access to one of these sites. If your child just wants to keep in touch with friends or have a blog then they shouldn’t have anything to hide. Also have your child set their personal settings so their profile is private and can only be seen by friends that they have accepted. Also have your child set their photographs to private and blogs to private. Never allow your child to have personal information listed on these sites. Addresses, schools, date of birth, full names should all be left off of these pages.
Social networking is one of the most popular things on the internet now but it can be one of the most dangerous things for a child to get into. Always remember to make your child feel like there is a good line of communication between the two of you and that they can come to you for anything. If you put some trust in your child with supervision then they most likely will follow through with your wishes. Keep your child safe.