Social Networking Sites...

Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens

Youíve probably learned a long list of important safety and privacy lessons already: Look both ways before crossing the street; buckle up; hide your diary where your nosy brother canít find it; donít talk to strangers.

The Federal Trade Commission, the nationís consumer protection agency, is urging kids to add one more lesson to the list: Donít post information about yourself online that you donít want the whole world to know. The Internet is the worldís biggest information exchange: many more people could see your information than you intend, including your parents, your teachers, your employer, the police ó and strangers, some of whom could be dangerous.

Social networking sites have added a new factor to the ďfriends of friendsĒ equation. By providing information about yourself and using blogs, chat rooms, email, or instant messaging, you can communicate, either within a limited community, or with the world at large. But while the sites can increase your circle of friends, they also can increase your exposure to people who have less-than-friendly intentions. Youíve heard the stories about people who were stalked by someone they met online, had their identity stolen, or had their computer hacked.

Your Safetyís at Stake