Social networking websites, like Facebook, have exploded in growth over the last few years. While this has allowed people to connect and reconnect in a whole new way, it comes with a risk of a tremendous loss of privacy. There are several steps you should take to protect yourself and your children.
Before you start using a social networking site, you should read their privacy policies as they vary from site to site. It’s always a good idea to use the highest privacy settings offered by the site. Read through the privacy guidelines and instructions to make sure you know how to control what others can see of your profile. It’s important to know how to block visitors and how to “untag” yourself from photos.
Think Twice Before You Post
Even if you have the highest privacy settings, you need to remember that this does not prevent people who are allowed to view your posts from making them public to others. Because of this, you should always think twice before posting anything you don’t want everyone to know.
Privacy means different things to different people. Somebody else may think it’s perfectly fine to share information that you consider private. The point to remember is to not post anything that you consider private, confidential, or potentially embarrassing. Avoid over-sharing and you avoid a lot of potential headaches.
If you have children using social networking sites, you must talk to them about privacy. Make sure they are using the highest privacy settings available. Talk to them about the dangers of posting personal information on the web. It is also important to have a discussion about what is okay to post in terms of what you consider appropriate and in good taste.
This is a good opportunity to discuss cyberbullying. Talk to them about what cyberbullying is, and what they should do if it happens to them or someone they know. Make sure that your kids understand that something that they think is funny might hurt someone else’s feelings, and if in doubt, don’t post it!
Teens may not realize that a post to a site can follow them for the rest of their lives. They should keep in mind that someday their future boss, inlaws, spouse, or children might see that picture that seems so funny now but might be very embarrassing years from now.
Don’t Mix Personal & Professional Lives Online
You want to be careful about mixing your personal and professional lives on social networking sites. If you decide to have both professional and personal social networking accounts, you may want to set up an account on a site that is geared toward that audience. For instance, more and more professionals use sites (i.e. LinkedIn) strictly for the professional side of their lives while keeping Facebook for their close personal friends and family.
It is possible to protect your privacy as well as that of your children. Understand how social networking sites work before joining and allowing your kids to join. Use the strongest privacy settings possible. As long as you use common sense, you should be able to enjoy social networking sites safely and without a problem.