Social networking sites, such as MySpace , allow you to post a profile about yourself and link it to profiles belonging to others. Different social networking sites provide different features for interacting with others, such allowing you to maintain a blog on the site, chat with other members of the site, or create a group made up of people with similar interests. People use social networking sites to meet new people, stay in touch with friends, and even make business connections.
Across a variety of demographics, people are increasingly using social networking sites for reasons related to both business and pleasure. College students and alumni use Facebook to stay connected to coursework, friends and alumni. Business professionals and recruiters use Linked In to view the corporate connections of their colleagues and search for job leads. Meanwhile, children are increasingly logging on to gaming Web sites, such as Club Penguin , where they have the option to chat with friends while playing video games.
Social networking sites are a concern for parents whose children are posting profiles on these sites. These profiles often contain pictures and personal information, such as name, age and location, which give too much information to other users who could have malicious intentions.
- Search social networking sites for your child's profile: You can usually search for a profile using your child's email address, age, location, or school. Check that his profile does not include any personal identifying information that might allow somebody to find him. If your child is underage and has a profile on one of these sites, you can request that the profile be taken down.
- Set your child's profile so that only her friends can see it: MySpace does not have this option, but on Friendster you can set your profile so that strangers cannot view it. To do this:
- Log on to your home page.
- Click Edit Settings.
- Scroll down to "Who Can View My Full Profile" and select "My Friends."
Make sure your child understands that these profiles are not private and are visible to anybody online. Check that your child does not post any personal contact information or details of her activities on her profile or blog.