Communicating through social networking Web sites, like MySpace, is the newest teenage rage. Despite its popularity, this new technology is fraught with potential dangers.
“If parents allow their children to have a personal page on Web sites like MySpace, they should stay aware of what they’re posting and who they’re talking to,” said Cheryl Varnadoe, a UGA Extension 4-H and youth development specialist.
When building content for their Web page, teenagers should make every effort to remain as anonymous as possible. They also should remember that information posted to a Web site can be downloaded or reposted to another Web site.
“Before you upload a photograph, ask yourself how you’d feel if your parents, grandparents, teachers or future boss saw the photo,” she said.
If a personal Web site contains a section for comments, parents and teens should check and monitor the content often.
Inappropriate comments should be reported to the networking site’s administrator.
“The best rule of thumb is not to say anything online that you would not say offline,” she said.
If the Web site offers this feature, create a “friends” list to control who can and cannot post comments to your site. Only allow people you know and trust to be on your list.
“If you don’t use privacy features, anyone can see your info,” Varnadoe said. “This includes people with bad intentions.”