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How To Keep Kids Safe With Social Media: From A Detective's Viewpoint

December 31, 2012 at 10:25 AM

social media detective

Social media can be a scary thing for parents.  More and more people are joining Facebook and Twitter every day; and many of those people who join these social networks are children and teenagers.  Social media has taken the place of the "playground", in that predators no longer need to physically hang out with children to obtain access to them.  

In Missouri, one school is taking the steps to inform parents about how to keep their kids safe with social media.  Detective Ed Bailey of the Southwest Missouri Cyber Crimes Task Force recently attended parent/teacher conferences at Carl Junction High School to talk to parents about the importance of online safety for their children.  Detective Bailey stated that the key is to get kids to understand how much of their personal information needs to be safeguarded at all costs.  And since many kids generally operate in an "it will never happen to me" frame of mind, getting the message across is difficult.

Facebook account settings privacy friends onlyEven so, parents need to be educated and constantly reminded about the importance of checking up on their children's online activities.  A few of the tips Detective Bailey presented to the parents are:

Lock Facebook Profiles

Every child who has a Facebook page needs to have their profile locked and visible to their friends only.  And every new friend that's accepted should be accepted only in the presence of a parent.  

Be Cautious About Pictures

Predators can get a significant amount of information from pictures.  Simply by looking at the background of the picture, an intelligent person can piece together where that child lives or likes to frequently hang out.  So, while putting pictures of social networks like Facebook and Instagram is fun and a popular thing for kids to do, Detective Bailey cautions parents against it.

Limit Information

Social networking sites have available profile space for adding everything from your email address to your phone number.  Predators constantly look for profiles that include as much personal information as possible.  Children's profiles should contain very little identifiable data.  

New Call-to-Action If parents are careful to limit what predators can see, those predators will keep looking for profiles that don't force them to work too hard to gain access to their victims.  It's also important to keep checking your child's profile to make sure it's as private as possible.  

With a little bit of time and an understanding of what safeguards should be in place, your child can remain safe and still enjoy their social networking experience.

 

                      6 internet safety rules for parents of teens and tweens                

 

Tim Woda

Written by Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet safety expert, and a passionate advocate for empowering families and protecting children from today’s scariest digital dangers. Woda was on the founding team of buySAFE, an Internet trust and safety company, and he started working on child safety issues after his son was targeted by a child predator online. While his son was unharmed, the incident led Woda to kick-start uKnow.com. You can follow Tim on Twitter or on his blog.

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