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When I was recently asked by three young ladies about what they could do to safely use social networking sites, I had to look no further than Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips.
Just a few of the useful tips mentioned here include:
Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people, for example, your friends from school, your club, your team, your community groups, or your family.
Don’t post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or bank and credit card account numbers — and don’t post other people’s information either.
Carefully consider posting things like the name of your school, sports team, clubs, where you work, places you hang out, and both birthday and age. Your parents, your teachers, the police, the college you want to attend, or the job you want, can see your behavior and not-so-flattering photos. Remember that once you post information online, you can’t take it back. Even if you delete the information from a site; older versions exist on other people’s computers.
Some sites allow everyone to view your postings, regardless of your privacy settings or intentions.
If you post one or more photos, ask yourself would you want mom or your boss to see them.
People are regularly stalked by someone they meet online, have their identity stolen, or have their computers hacked.
Flirting with strangers online could have serious consequences. Because some people lie about who they really are, you never really know who you’re dealing with.
Be wary if a new online friend wants to meet you in person. Before you decide to meet someone: Ask whether any of your friends know the person, see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them; Meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust.
Tell an adult or a responsible sibling where you’re going, and when you expect to be back. Trust your gut if you have suspicions. If you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, tell an adult you trust and report it to the police and the social networking site. You could end up preventing someone else from becoming a victim.