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How can I help protect my child's online image?

Shawn Edgington
Pediatrics
To help with online image protection, daily monitoring is a great idea, especially for teens between the ages of twelve and sixteen. This age group tends to get a little "out of control" with what they talk about and post online. These tips will help you protect your teen's online image:
  • Remind your children that once they post information online, they can't get it back.
  • Set all privacy settings to restrict who can see and access their site.
  • Monitor all of your teen's social networking sites. Watch what information they're posting and read their comments.
  • Set a Google Alert for each of your children's names and schools. (It's important to know when your child's school hits the news.)
  • Review your child's "friends" list often. Don't accept a list of friends that is too long -- it usually means they're "friending" people they don't know.
  • Limit your children's online "friends" to people they actually know.
  • Watch for information that should stay private. Social Security numbers, street addresses, phone numbers, or family financial information like bank accounts and credit card numbers are all private information and should never be posted online.
  • Encourage children to trust their gut -- if they have suspicions regarding unsolicited requests from strangers, teach them about the Ignore/Block/ Report system.
  • Encourage your teens to tell you if they feel uncomfortable or threatened as a result of something happening online. Make sure they block the offender.
  • Talk to your teens about inappropriate sex talk and let them know that it will not be tolerated.
  • Talk to your teens about the importance of not standing by and watching others get harassed or bullied online.
  • If your teen gets bullied online, have them report concerns to you. Be sure to make copies of all material information, and report the incident to the social networking site. If necessary, contact the police.
  • Watch for inappropriate groups or pages that have been connected to your child's site, such as hate groups.
  • Tell your child that impersonating someone else or stealing someone else's identity is absolutely unacceptable. (This is accomplished by stealing/using someone else's username and password.) Immediately disable their social media accounts if you find evidence of this.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.