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Cyber Safety Glossary

Social Networking Sites

Also Known As:
Friend-of-a-Friend Sites

Description:
There are hundreds of Social Networking Sites — places on the Internet where people meet in cyberspace to chat, socialize, debate, and network. Some examples include MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook. Regardless of the language, culture, or the nation where the Social Networking Site originates, all of them share the same feature of helping people connect with others who have similar interests.

Social Networking Sites are immensely popular with teenagers and young adults. These sites have become the in-place to meet people and begin to explore something more than chatting online. On these sites, the young person begins by describing his or her likes and dislikes in movies, television programs, books, and music. They post a photo of themselves and upload music files. They give general information on age, sex, and city of residence. Each visitor has a screen name that protects their identity.

Some examples include of Social Networking Sites include MySpace, Friendster, and Facebook.

How to Recognize This Threat:
Criminals looking for financial gain, sexual predators, and abusive personalities prowl these sites searching for victims. And children sometimes post things information like class schedules, addresses and phone numbers to make it easy for criminals to find and contact them.

What Should I Do:
Monitor your child’s Internet use. While these sites have age limits, underage children see their older brothers and sisters having fun and decide to sneak on by lying about their age. Make children and teenagers aware of the potential dangers. They should not believe everything they read by an online “friend.” Urge them to be skeptical.

Tell your children to never give out important information like their real name, address, telephone number, and email address. Urge them to come to you if someone tries to scare and bully them into doing something they know is wrong or if they receive inappropriate pictures or messages. Never under any circumstances should your child agree to meet in person with someone from these sites.

Visitors to these sites should refrain from listing too much information. Once something is online, it can’t be retracted. Do not open any emails or download attachments from unfamiliar sources. Read the site’s privacy statement. Some of these sites share or sell information. Social Networking Sites are growing more popular and will consequently draw greater attention from criminals and deviants.