What Parents Should Know About Online Social Networking

March 5, 2013
These numbers may make you think twice about kids and their online activities.

The information contained in the infographic below – courtesy of The Parents Zone and designed by Visualization – offers a fascinating look at social networking and the issues around children’s access to it. The Internet, technology, and social media is now so prevalent in our society that it is impossible to avoid. And, if you are a parent, you owe it to your children’s safety to educate yourself. These statistics may help.

First, though, as you may notice, the title of the graphic is “Why Parents Hate Social Networking Sites.” I’m not sure that describes what most parents feel. If their children are taught how to use social media responsibly, they may like it very much. However, I think that many parents have heard horror stories and wonder how they can protect their children from abuse in this modern arena of communication.

Of course, I suspect some parents do hate social networking sites because it is yet one more thing they have to worry about. But it’s not going to go away. Besides, social networking can help children become acquainted with people they would never meet in the ordinary circumstances of their lives.

So I offer this chart to show you where you should be concerned. Don’t just assume that your child is playing safely online.

For example, you will note that “55% of teens give information to someone online that they didn’t know, including pictures and physical information.” That is something about which parents need to address with their children.

Here are the kinds of questions parents can ask:

  • Do you share information with people you don’t know online? Why?
  • What do you share? Why?
  • What do you think can happen if you share your information with someone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart?
  • Do you know anyone who has had a problem?
  • What do you think someone might do with the information you share with them?

Remember, kids feel invincible: nothing bad is going to happen to them. That’s why they take risks. They don’t realize that sharing a picture they think is “funny” may come back to haunt them when they apply for work after they leave school.

They need an adult they trust to clearly remind them that not everyone will treat their information with caution. The adult needs to point out to them that if they share their information with strangers, they don’t have any way to prevent the strangers from sharing that information with others they don’t know.

I think the best way to communicate your concerns is to be open and discuss what you know. Share this chart with them and ask where they think they fall in these different categories.

Why Parents Hate Social Networking Sites

Infographic courtesy of The Parents Zone


Did you enjoy this post?
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