Like, Share, Comment! While you are barely managing to log into Facebook, your
children have spiralled into a new world where posting no longer requires a
postman, sharing is no longer about values and tweets are not the sounds that
birds make! Learn about the pros and cons of social networking for kids and how
to keep them safe online here.
have effortlessly built their lives on the internet with social networks like
Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Google Plus, MySpace, Orkut, etc. You look out
for your child and try to protect him or her from any danger that may harm them
in their day to day lives, but what about their online lives? Have you done
enough to keep them safe in the virtual world?
What is Social
Social networking refers to
the interaction of different individuals with a common interest. When different
people who share a hobby, passion or even business interests come together, it
is referred to as a social network. On the internet, there are many websites
that promote such social interactions. Social networking websites allow
you to create a profile and post information about yourself. Profiles can be
kept private or public and you can choose what information your friends can see
and what other site visitors can see.
On these sites, you can
find people who have things in common with you. People form groups on such
websites and many discussions take place in these groups. You can even add
friends to your friends list and regularly interact with them. Adding a person
to your friends list gives him or her access to your personal profile,
photographs, contact information, etc.
The Advantages of
Internet Social Networking for Kids
Joining a social network
online is a great way to meet new people, learn about new things and find
communities that encourage a hobby or passion. You may learn a vast amount of
new things about your passions if you join a community. Talking to people on a
common subject can be a lot of fun, as different or opposing viewpoints encourage
As for children, there is a
lot for them to do on social networking sites. There are many games, puzzles,
quizzes and team activities that they could try out. They can add friends and
see what they are up to. A lot of intelligent discussion takes place on social
networking sites as well. Joining these debate groups can be really
advantageous for your child as he gains a different perspective and learns how
to approach issues differently.
Many learning tools are
available on social networking sites, so that your child constantly learns
something each day. For example, a 'History' tool may post one interesting
historic fact daily, thus teaching your child something new. An 'art' tool that
posts user-submitted art may get your child interested in artistic pursuits.
The Risks of Social
Networking for Kids
With all things good come
its evils. Even though social networking is a great concept, there are many
precautionary measures that you should take to ensure it is a safe experience. Though adults
today are quite comfortable with website settings and preferences, children are
not as familiar with privacy settings. Therefore, a profile which does not have
adequate privacy settings can be easily accessed by any user who logs on to
Most social networking
sites put all user-submitted information on public view by default. This is to
promote normal interaction. But this also means that people with malicious
intentions can also access the profile. This is harmful as they have direct
access to contact information and photographs as well.
Another disadvantage of
social networking sites is the fact that there is no verification procedure for
people who wish to join the site. Almost the entire Internet allows you to
remain anonymous if you choose to. But because of this there is no assurance
that the person may actually be who he claims to be online. For example, a man
can easily create a profile of a woman and befriend people. Similarly, an older
person can pretend to be a child and indulge in immoral activities.
Censorship is another issue
which has not been tackled effectively on social networking websites. Explicit
language is not censored in groups and discussion boards. It is also possible
to post expletives on somebody's profile page. There have even been cases where
pornographic pictures were posted on certain photo albums. Often such cases go
undetected until somebody reports it. There is also a lot of racist, violent,
and sexist material that exists on social networking sites.
Though social networking sites today do offer security and privacy options,
activating and operating those options can get a bit complicated. Therefore, it
is important that you understand a site's privacy settings completely before
you let your child log on.
Networking for Children
As children are generally
unaware of the repercussions of inadequately protecting their identity online,
it becomes your responsibility to ensure that they do not face a difficult
situation. It is common knowledge that there are many unscrupulous people online who try to prey on young children on social networking sites. It
is also possible that your child may be exposed to explicit content through a
10 tips to ensure Child Safety on Social Networks:
- Visit the site yourself and browse through it. Check for loopholes.
- Check the site for privacy settings. Make an alternate profile and check how effective those privacy settings are.
- Enquire with your friends and relatives if they know anything about security issues on those social sites. If they are regular users of the site, they should be able to guide you well.
- Preferably avoid posting photographs in the photo albums. If you do decide to add photos, ensure that appropriate privacy settings are applied.
- Join the site yourself and add your child to your friends list. This way you can also keep an eye on your child's activities.
- Educate your child about social networking and safety. Preferably avoid letting him register on a site if he is not old enough to understand the risks.
- Installing security software is also a good idea. This way, you can prevent your child from accidentally accessing links that have been classified as adult content.
- Make sure you and your child discuss online interactions regularly. Keeping an open relationship is always a good idea, as your child will inform you if he plans to meet anybody he met online, or if somebody said something inappropriate to him.
- Regulate the amount of time your child spends online. It is possible that he may get addicted to social networking and adopt negative traits.
- Join some social network for parents online that gives you tips and updates on protecting your child online in order to help you stay up-to-date with new privacy features, new social networks and apps that your child may be interested in.
Social networking is a boon
but only if enjoyed responsibly. So make sure you make that extra effort to
secure your child while he surfs the Internet.
Learn About Internet Safety
for Kids Here