March 28, 2011

Time to consider social networking sites for kids under 13!

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Time to consider social networking sites for kids under 13!

With all the advances in technology, social networking sites for kids under 13 are becoming increasingly popular. These sites have been around for adults of all ages for years, but with students learning how to use computers in preschool, they are more capable now than ever before of getting online and joining social networking sites themselves.

So with the creation of social networking sites for kids under 13, is it appropriate for your child or preteen to join them and how can you find appropriate sites that are safe?

The answers to these questions lie in your willingness to do the necessary research in order to keep your child safe.

Your child often knows much more about the Internet than you do. They know how to log in to a web browser, find a search engine, and perform a search. With so much of education emphasizing the technological future for students, they are becoming more proficient at earlier ages than ever before. You must educate yourself on the Internet and the variety of social networking sites for kids under 13 before you allow your child to join one.

5 simple steps to keep your kids safe online

1) Be knowledgeable and proficient when it comes to using the Internet. You should be able to teach your child about the basics of the Internet, not the other way around. You must do the necessary work in order to feel comfortable searching for appropriate social networking sites for kids under 13.

2) Never use your child’s real personal information or pictures. Anyone can access important information, even from social networking sites for kids under 13. Make up a “dummy” name that does not reveal anything about their personal interests, location, or age. You child’s information needs to be protected just as much, if not more so than your financial information.

3) Choose the highest privacy setting possible to ensure full protection of your child’s social and emotional health. Most quality social networking sites will have these measures in place when signing up for the site.

4) Do not leave your child or teen unattended when using a social networking site. Even if your child has been using the site for months, it only takes one click of the mouse to be somewhere they should not be, or worse, one conversation could lead to a child predator targeting your child.

5) Discuss the dangers of social networking sites and Internet use with your child. Be honest and real with them about warning signs of inappropriate conversations and proposals.

Now that you know how to protect your child online, here are some tips for knowing what to look for in appropriate social networking sites for kids under 13.

4 ways to spot safe sites

1) Do an Internet search for “safe social networking sites for kids under 13.” When you get the results, choose each of the sites and browse it carefully looking for possible red flags such as profile pictures, personal information, and foul language. See what topics are being discussed and if the content is appropriate for your child. Some sites may be good for 13 year-olds but not an 8 year old.

a. A list of good sites for kids can be found by this search but a few reputable sites include:barbiegirls, clubpenguin, dizzywood,, Kidzworld, kidchatters, and Chat Avenue.

2) If your child suggests a chat room that you are unfamiliar with, type it into a search engine in order to do a background check before you allow your child access.

3) Pay attention to the people who are on the site. If their language and vocabulary seems above the level where it should be, then be cautious. If people sign in and sign out of a social networking site quickly, then that is a sign that they are either bored or prowling. Avoid sites where you notice a large amount of this.

4) Try to find a chat room that utilizes a moderator. A moderator will keep the conversations appropriate and red flag any discussions or interactions that are not age-appropriate.

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