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BBB Offers Advice for Parent to
prote<;t kids from social networks

The ofsocial net­
working continues to gr( w
among kids. They can provide
a secure way for kids to con­
nect with each other, but they
can also be exploited for any
number ofnefarious purpoSeS.
According to iStrategy Labs,
the number of users on Face-
book that are between the ages
of 13 and 18 in 2009 grew to
10.7 million. While Facebook
and MySpace require all users
to be at least 13 years old,
some sites are geared for chil­
dren even younger.
"In many instances, kids
know more about computers
and the Internet than their par­
ents; however, it's important
to remember that kids aren't
old enough to understand all
ofthe various threats that lurk
online," said Bill Moak, Pres­
identiCEO of the Mississippi
Better Business Bureau.
"Even if they're intimidated
by technology, parents need to
supervise the computer use of
children in the house as well
as educate their kids onhow
to play it safe online."
The Business Bureau
offers the following tips for
parents who want to help keep
their kids safe online:
Explain the difference be­
tween sharing andover-shar­
ing. While social networking
is about sharing photos,
thoughts and experiences,
children should never share
personal information such as
phone numbers, address, bank
account numbers, passwords
or Social Security numbers.
"Never talk to. strangers"ap­
plies online too. One of the
first rules we teach our kids is
never to talk to strangers. Re­
mind them that the rule also
applies when online. Even
though chatting with a
stranger online can seem
harmless, the relationship can
evolve, and grow until the
stranger has earned your
child's trust-andean then ex­
ploit it.
Set strict privacy settings
Social networking sites let
users determine who they
want to share information
with. Have children restrict
access to their profile to only
friends or users in safe net­
works such as their school,
clubs or church groups.
Keep the channels. of com­
munication open. Let kids I
know that you are always
ready to talk if they are ever
threatened, bullied or feel un­
comfortable about an
ence they had online.
Join them online. If you
haven't already, set up your
own account in the same so­
cial networks to help you bet- .
ter understand what social
net'%rking is all about.
Federal law requires sites
collecting identifying infor­
mation from children under 13 i
to get a parent's consent first.
Report concerns about data
collection from children under
13 to the Children's Advertis­
ing Review Unit ofthe Coun­
cil ofBetter Business Bureaus
at www.caru.orgicomplaint..