Not long ago I saw something on Facebook that parents should know about.
Some middle-school kids, who may not necessarily list where they live on their profiles, are joining Facebook groups with names like “Run Day at ______ Middle School Sucks.” Or “Swim P.E. at ______ Middle School Sucks.”
Should 12- and 13-year-old kids be on Facebook in the first place? Probably only with their parents’ knowledge and supervision. Why? Because they don’t always think about the logical consequences of their actions.
No child should be this easily identified online, especially when it comes to where they live and what school they go to. I looked at the profiles of some of these kids (many of which were public and not protected; another issue for kids this age), and I was amazed at how much personal information they gave out, either in their profiles or through the groups they joined.
If your kid is on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter or some other social-networking site, make sure you check out his or her profile, posts, tweets, etc. regularly. If your child doesn’t want to friend you on Facebook, insist on knowing her password and let her know that you’ll be checking out her Facebook page from time to time to make sure she is not endangering herself or her friends by giving out too much information.
If your child posts videos on YouTube, make sure he doesn’t identify where he lives, where he goes to school, etc.
Talk with your child about being safe on the Web, and about Internet predators. We all watch the news and we all hear about kids being contacted by people who should not be targeting kids.
If you wouldn’t want your 13-year-old daughter telling a 40-year-old male stranger where she attends 7th grade, then you’ll want to make sure she isn’t doing exactly that — without intending to — online.