Online safety for parents
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How do I keep my child safe on social networks?

The benefits of social networking are undeniable, but we often overlook their hazards, particularly for children. But by getting involved in your child’s social networking, you can teach them how to remain safe

Social networks can be great fun and a powerful force for good. They have contributed significantly to popular culture, disaster relief and even political change.

But as anyone can sign up to a social network, it will inevitably attract a small minority of users who want to promote extreme or unsavoury views, or who have abusive or criminal intentions. So, although the vast majority of users are respectable, it’s important to take precautions.

Too much information

Maintaining privacy is one of the biggest considerations. We live in a celebrity culture where you become ‘someone’ by displaying yourself to the world. So youngsters can fall for peer pressure and disclose more about themselves than is wise to the wrong people – without realising the risks.

They can also casually link up with huge numbers of supposed ‘friends’, who in reality are completely unknown to them. This can have serious consequences. For example, after a teenager posted an invitation to her birthday party on a social networking site, 50 uninvited strangers turned up and trashed the family home.

Information your child posts can remain on a site for much longer than you might think, and can be leaked through inadequate site security. Sometimes this can have adverse consequences. People have been sacked or lost job opportunities because of old postings on social networks.

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