With the hoopla over DOPA this summer, people may have the mistaken opinion that the US government (along with many other digital immigrants in US society) have a “head in the sand” view when it comes to digital social networking. The website “Social Networking Sites: A Parent’s Guide” from the US government website OnGuard Online indicates otherwise, at least for the civil servants who I assume have created this excellent resource. (The digital literacy of our elected representatives may not be quite at the level of these website creators, unfortunately.) These are some of the tips shared on the page:

  1. Keep the computer in an open area, like the kitchen or family room, and use the Internet with your kids.
  2. Talk to your kids about their online habits. Tell them why it’s important to keep their name, Social Security number, address, phone number, and family financial information to themselves.
  3. Your kids should post only information that you and they are comfortable with others seeing and knowing.
  4. Warn your kids about the dangers of flirting with strangers online.
  5. Tell your children to trust their gut if they have suspicions.
  6. If they feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, they need to tell you, and then report it to the police.

The ideas here support the contentions I made in April, in the post “F2F conversations and dialog as the answer” [to our problems with DSN and many other issues.] They are also supported in Internet Safety curriculum provided by groups like iSafe. This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it is CRITICAL, because I am convinced many parents are simply not having enough conversations with their kids! As my wife blogged last night, many of our families are too busy with our activities to even sit down at the dinner table regularly and engage in simple, relaxed dialog about what is happening in each other’s lives. :-(

OnGuard Online has a lot of other excellent information for Internet users of all ages addressing issues like ID theft, Internet auctions, spyware, wireless Internet access dangers, phishing, spam scams, online shopping, peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, and voice-over-ip (VoIP).

Via Carl Ward. (Who is, incidentally, my fantastic father-in-law!)


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  • http://tuttlesvc.org Tom Hoffman

    The odd omission here is “tell your kids not to meet people they know online in private,” which seems to be the biggest thing to avoid.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    Good point. LMIRL is the scariest and most potentially dangerous outcome of digital social networking, and it is not even addressed on this site. Yikes! Big omission on their part. Good catch, Tom.

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