Your kids have made friends through Facebook or Twitter. You even maintain a page to keep in touch with your friends and family. But are you sure your family's privacy is protected?

A social networking website is one that helps you build and maintain networks with people who share your interests. Because of the social nature of these sites, many children and their parents are becoming members.

By posting personal information, you're allowing it to be viewable by anyone, including strangers, prospective employers, law enformcement agencies and possibly online predators. So be careful about what you share with others, including what you type and the type of pictures you post . Your posted information (including your shared information as well as your online activities) may be viewed, used or disclosed in ways that you might not be able to forsee.

The following tips can help you choose which site your family will use to maintain their social networks:

  • Read the privavy statements and policies before you register.
  • Ask whether the site allows you to join a closed network where email addresses of users are verified as part of a legitimate organization.
  • Ask if you are allowed to block certain information (you might need it to register, but you don't have to display it on your page).
  • Ask if your profile be viewed only with your consent? Or can all registered users see it.
  • Ask if your profile, or personal information (like your address or phone number) will be accessible to users or third parties.
  • Ask whether other users are able to monitor your online activities.
  • Check if you are able to flag or report inappropriate posts or profiles.

To find out more about online safety and for more tips on keeping your kids safe online, check out these articles:

Wired Kids: The Cyber Bullied

Wired Kids: Where they go Wrong

Wired Kids: How to Stop a Predator