Teens, and sometimes kids even younger are creating personal Web pages, chatting online, joining forum conversations, blogging online and even posting photos. This would be a great thing in a perfect world, but this is not a perfect world. There are a lot of bad people out there that are searching for your children online.
While it’s nice that kids are able to keep in touch with friends, meet new friends around the world and express themselves online, they need to be aware of the dangers of the Internet. You, as their parent, need to be aware of things they should and should not be doing online. You need to prepare them for the dangers and make them aware of what they can and can’t do on the Net.
By talking to your kids and being proactive in their online lives you can help keep them safe.
Personal Web Sites
When a person creates a personal Web site they often want the Web site to reflect who they are. They post their name, what country and part of the country they are from, where they work or go to school and other personal information. It’s important to tell about yourself on your personal Web site, but posting too much information is just plain dangerous.
When kids create a personal Web site they should not post certain information:
- Email addresses
- Full name
- Address and phone number
- Name of school or work place
- Full names of friends or family
- City or town they live in
- Places they like to go
- Don’t talk badly about your friends, school, etc. Your friends/school may find out.
- Don’t talk about bad things you’ve done. Other people you know may be reading it.
When chatting online people often give out way too much information. The people they are chatting with want to know who they are talking to. If they start asking for personal information, log off.
When you join a forum you are looking to belong to a group of a certain type of people or you are looking for advice on something. Even in this situation your child needs to be careful what they post or what information they give out.
Blogging is kind of like an online diary. People often start a blog to tell about themselves. This is probably the place where kids and teens get into the most trouble. Teens start their own blog and then they write all about themselves. They write about their school, friends, hobbies, likes and dislikes, jobs they have, where they live, everything. They allow strangers to post comments on their blogs and they even give out their email addresses so anyone can contact them.
This is a great idea, in theory, but it’s not practical, expecially for a teen who doesn’t know what’s safe and what’s not safe to post. When your child is spending a lot of time online it’s time to have a long talk with them about the kinds of things they are writing about online for all to see.
Posting pictures to your personal Web site is one way to make your Web site personal. Almost everyone does it. Parents post pictures of their kids on their personal Web sites so why can’t kids post pictures of themselves? They can, but they need to be careful what they post. As long as they don’t post any personal information (see list above) on their Web site or blog, posting pictures is relatively harmless as long as they be careful what pictures they post.