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February 3, 2012 > Social networking safety tips

Social networking safety tips

Submitted By Newark Police Department

It is no question that social networking websites are expanding rapidly every day. With a growing trend of sharing yourself more and more online, safety is often overlooked. Setting forth some safety guidelines will benefit users of social networks, including parents and children.

*Review the website's safety notifications, standards, and learn how to report violating content. Most often, this information will be disclosed at the registration phase; otherwise, it might be noted at the bottom of the site. Safety information aims to educate users about the function of their web site in regard to Internet safety.

*Talk to your children about social networking and privacy of information. Discuss what information is private versus public, what pictures are appropriate to post, and how to decline requests to meet people.

*Understand that people are not always who they claim they are. You wouldn't reveal your personal details to just anyone, would you? Don't post it on your profile unless you want everyone (including bad people) to see it. Don't agree to meet anyone unless you specifically know that person.

*Parents, if you learn of your child's intent to meet someone based on an online interaction, intervene immediately! This is not a safe practice! If you wish to meet someone, do it safely. This discretion can be a difficult one to judge, but if you choose to meet someone online, make sure you do so in a safe location. Select a place that is public, indoors, safe, and provides either of you the option of "running errands" if you wish to not meet. Bring a friend with you just to be safe.

*Be careful: social networking is a double-edged sword. It is okay to have fun and connect with other people on social networks, but just be alert to the fact that criminals may prey on others. Take precautions to prevent possible negative outcomes.

*Set your profile to 'Private' in order to screen outsiders. Most social networks will permit you to change settings to prevent outside individuals from viewing your profile. This enables you to reach out to others with whom you are friends, but excludes incoming profile requests. It is strongly suggested that parents enforce rules that their children's profiles remain private.

*Maintain your computer's defenses. As a general precaution, it is important to make sure you have an updated anti-virus, firewall, anti-spyware, and operating system. Advertisements on some social networking sites contain malicious codes and can infect your computer system.

*Don't get "phished." Phishing is a common tactic of spammers to compromise some else's account and send messages purporting their products. Take a moment to understand how to properly login to the social network. Don't click links you didn't ask for or expect. If a link prompts you to log in again, it is most likely a phishing scam.

There are many other resources to help you learn more about Internet safety. One such resource can be found at http://www.connectsafely.org.

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