You are most probably familiar with Facebook and Twitter, but what about some of the other popular sites that your child may be using? Many of these sites have been the source of bullying, sexting, stranger assault and rape and other dangers. Do you know what messages your child is receiving and sending out?
The major dangers of using social networking websites are:
- Over sharing information. In addition to uploading such personal information as name, phone number, address and birthday when creating a profile, many young users unknowingly share a lot more information within their photos and posts. They may show a photo in their school, wearing their team uniform, pictures and information about friends, relatives and around their home. This information may allow a stranger to pretend they know your child and also provide tips to their account passwords.
- Hidden and False Identities. Social networking sites make it easy to gain the trust of a minor while pretending to be a peer, a close friend of the family, someone with similar likes or a trusted member of society. People can post any picture and allow others to assume that is them.
- Location-based services. Location-based services allow apps to post your location with your post or photos. This can make a user vulnerable to being robbed, sexually assaulted, or worse. Predators can use this tool to track your movements and determine when you are alone or when you are not at home.
- Posting photos. Teens and tweens love to post selfies. Often, these selfies involve provocative poses. The Internet makes it easy to obtain photos and use the images in any way a person may choose. Posting inappropriate photos that may be deemed as fun, cute, or sexy, can end up where one least expects it. In addition, these days photos are easy to alter and edit to manipulate the way a user chooses, and in the hands of a stranger this can be very dangerous.
What Can You Do to Keep Your Child Safer?
It is important to talk to your child and make sure they understand how to use the Internet safely. Set guidelines and monitor their use. Know their passwords and check what messages they are sending out and receiving.
Make sure they understand these five basic safety measures:
- Don’t give out any optional information when setting up a profile. The set-up page usually requires you to fill out basic information, such as your name and email. Everything else is optional. Do not feel obligated to put your address and telephone number.
- Set privacy settings. The best setting is “friends only.” This is the strictest level of security; allowing only people that you have accepted as a friend to view information about you.
- Only “Friend” people you know. Accepting only people you know and trust is a great way to ensure safety when using social networking sites. Doing this can protect you from spammers, pedophiles, and other people who use social networking sites to commit crimes.
- Never post or send pictures that would embarrass you if shared with everyone.
- Never meet up alone with someone you do not know except through a social network. As we mentioned above, those with bad intentions are easily able to falsify their identity to make you believe they are a different person.
Give our experienced cyberbullying lawyers a call for advice, information or any questions about a potential case you think you have. We provide free consultations to answer any questions and discuss options and the best course of action. There is never a fee or obligation—we work on a contingency fee which means we only get paid if and when we win money for our clients.