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Mind Your Children, Please

Posted on the 21 January 2011 by Maria Snyder @MariaConsulting

My husband and I traveled to London, England for our honeymoon. When queued for the Subway trains (the Tube), a pleasant recording would politely repeat “Mind your children, mind the gap”.  And people did.
Parents need to mind their child’s use of the internet, specifically social media sites like Facebook. There is so much happening all the time, at least in my house.   We are busy. I make the time to look at what my kids do online ~ every day. Sometimes it’s a glance over their shoulder. Sometimes it’s just a quick conversation that goes something like, hey what’s up on Facebook today?
Did you know that you can subscribe to any friends status updates via text? If you are not friends with your kids on Facebook you are kidding yourself. Every time my 12 year old posts, I get a text of what she said.
To subscribe to someone via text on Facebook (as of 01.20.2011) do the following steps:

  • You have to be friends with the person
  • While logged in to your account, click on Account in the top right corner
  • In the Account drop down, pick Account settings
  • Click on the Mobile tab and activate your phone by providing your number and confirming the code Facebook texts you
  • Midway down about half way look for “Whose status updates should go to my phone?”
  • Enter the name of the friend/child in the white box beneath it
  • You are now all set and should receive text updates

The following tips and conclusion came from a flier my daughter received at her school from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children:
Talk with your kids about their email accounts, and discuss the potential risks involved. Remind them to never share passwords with anyone but you, not even their closest friends.
Kids are able to set up private accounts through free web-based, email services without asking permissions from parents or guardians.
Social networking websites allow kids to connect with their friends and other users with similar interests. Kids socialize and express themselves by exchanging instant messages, e-mails, or comments and posting photographs, creative writing, artwork, videos, and music to their blogs and personal profiles. Some 55% of online teens have profiles on a social networking website such as Facebook or Myspace.
A survey of 10 to 17 year old kids revealed 34% posted their real names, telephone numbers, home addresses, or the names of their schools online where anyone could see; 45% had posted their dates of birth or ages; and 18% had posted pictures of themselves.
Kids need to have their privacy settings set to friends only. Remind kids to only add people they know in person to their contacts and friends. Kids often compete to see who can have the most online contacts, caution is needed, ask often about their friends.
Visit social networking sites with your kids, and exchange ideas about what you think is safe and unsafe.
Encourage your kids to think before typing, “Is this message hurtful or rude?” Also urge your kids not to respond to any rude or harassing messages or ones making them scared, uncomfortable, or confused. Have them show you such messages.
Keep the gaming console and computer/laptop in a common area of the home so you are able to more easily supervise.
Because we use the Internet in different ways, kids and adults may learn from each other. By talking about Internet use with your kids, you are opening the door to discussing the important issues of personal safety and helping them to engage in responsible behavior. Visit to find safety resources for both kids and adults.

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