Remember a photo posted on a social networking site by Peyton Strickland's friends showing the teens with weapons? It caused law enforcement to assume he was "armed and dangerous."
How about one of the photos lifted from Amy Polumbo's Facebook page in an attempt to force her to give up her title as Miss New Jersey? Both are examples of why it's important to post to these social networking sites responsibly. And it's a wake-up call for parents to supervise what their kids and teens are posting.
Once they post information and pictures on a site, they've lost control. Others can copy and post it elsewhere. No amount of "site cleansing" will get it all back. It's no secret that internet predators scour these sites, as do college admissions officers and potential employers. Make sure your children follow these simple rules, and monitor their sites frequently:
- Protect yourself against sexual assault, stalking, identity theft, and burglary by not posting personal information such as your address, birth date, or phone numbers.
- If you wouldn't post it in your local newspaper, don't post it online because the internet is just as open and available to others, even more so given the ease at which digital images can be altered, forwarded, placed elsewhere, and stored.
- Use privacy settings to help control who can access the information. While these settings provide no guarantees, they can be a useful tool in gaining some control of information posted.
- Your online profile may be the only impression someone has of you. While family and friends may know you're joking about something you've posted, future employers and others won't.
Parents, you are your child's best insurance against costly mistakes. Monitor their sites closely.