Facts and Fallacies About Social Networks

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Facts:
1. Most sites have no identity verification and screening of members – Very true, aside from some gambling sites no one seems to be verifying identities of their members.

2. Talking with your kids about online safety does help – Kids really do listen.  Research shows that children whose parents talk with them about safe online behavior do less less risky things online.

3. The best strategy for keeping your kids safe online is a mix of technology and personal parental involvemen– Everything from filters, to firewalls to keeping the computer in a public room at home, to talking to your kids and reminding them about safe online behavior does make a difference.

4. Social networking sites can be fun, engaging and positive for youth – research shows that kids explore interests, find information that goes beyond what they have access to at school or in their local community and allows them to connect with peers who share specialized niche interests.

 

Fallacies:

1. Having a profile on a social networking site set to “Private” safeguards a person from anyone intending them harm – Unfortunately wrong. Members with profiles set to private can still receive friend requests and are two clicks away from pornographers, trollers or others intending harm.

2. It’s best just to keep your kids off social networking sites altogether – that may be your initial reaction, but if your kids are in a safe, engaging and positive community there are many benefits. Research shows that youth are picking up basic social and
technical skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society – youth add new media skills to their repertoire, are able to engage in self-directed learning and enjoy friendship-driven and interest-driven online activities. (I can tell you that’s the truth in my household. Other than studying for a spelling test, my younger boys never asked me how to spell a word. Yet before replying to a comment on their page, they asked, “how do you spell, ‘Steelers’ Mom”, as they didn’t want to post their reply with the wrong spelling. My other son, only knew how to use the mouse, but to see him traversing the key board is a nice side benefit to his participation on Yoursphere.)

3. It’s really the “fringe kids” that are in danger on social networking sites – Not so. According to research, by the time kids are teens that have been spending time online, and “nothing has happened to them”, they have tuned out the ‘stranger danger’ messages and that type of online education is no longer effective.

4. COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) protects all kids online – Unfortunately not so. Many sites make it very easy for kids to “click and lie” about their age and join sites meant for adults.

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