Social Networking & Internet Awareness

(click here or above for video - i had it embeded before but it was on auto-play and it drove me bonkers!)

i blogged on my library media school blog at the beginning of the school year about ethical social networking habits and i want to share a new resource with you so i'm going to re-post & update it!
...I've been saying it for years but it bears repeating - in regards to the Internet:
There is no safe, there is only AWARE
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
Helen Keller, The Open Door -1957

I've been teaching/preaching Internet safety awareness since 2000...i was first asked to do so by Maryland Public Television and then the Horizon Foundation...and through their patronage i created a website called Internet Safety for Parents & Teens that covered a lot of common sense information about how to be more AWARE of the pitfalls and dangers on the Intarwebs. Again, the subject i think that is foremost now is not Safety but Awareness. We have to encourage our kids to be aware of their own digital footprint. To be mindful of what they post and how they cultivate a good Internet profile so that when they apply to college, or a job, they know how they will be perceived by those people who will be digging for information ...and dig they will.

Kids need to know that embarrassing or inappropriate pictures posted are there online and can be found forever. Social networks are NOT inherently bad and they're not going's more about using ethical & wise choices than being scared of the Bogey man out there - though they exist - it's more likely that teens will be harassed by other teens that they know than some stranger. Sad but true fact, teens who are at-risk in general will most likely be at-risk on the Internet.

Parents: what you can do at home
  • have the Internet connected computer in a main room of your the kitchen or living, or family room
  • if you have kids who have laptops and a wireless router, keep the router in your bedroom and disconnect the router (unplug & remove) the power cord at bedtime.
  • late night texting is also a concern - if this is a problem re-charge family cell phones in YOUR rooms overnight
  • know what usernames your kids use on facebook, twitter, myspace, etc. ask to see their page...then ask to see their REAL page!
  • make sure that ANY social network they belong to is set to private
  • know how to search the history of your kids computer
More things to think about:

"Hemanshu Nigam, the chief security officer at News Corp. provides advice about the compassionate and kind use of social networking:

  • Post with respect: photos are a great way to share wonderful experiences. If you're posting a photo of you and your friends, put yourself in your friends' shoes and ask would your friends want that photo to be public to everyone. If yes, then you're uploading photos with respect.
  • Comment with kindness: compliments are like smiles, they're contagious. When you comment on a profile, share a kind word, others will too.
  • Update with empathy: sharing updates lets us tell people what we think. When you give an opinion on your status updates, show empathy towards your friends and help them see the world with understanding eyes.
from: Back-to-school advice for safe & ethical social networking - CNET News

Play the Friend Finder Game! Interactive fun game testing your social networking skillz!

Talk to your kids about the risks.
  • Explain that online information and images can live forever. It can be very hard and sometimes impossible to take down information that is posted, and photos and information may already have been copied and posted elsewhere.
  • Tell your children not to post any identifying information online. This includes their cell phone number, address, hometown, school name, and anything else that a stranger could use to locate them.
  • Explain that anyone in the world can access what they post online. Tell your children that some college admissions boards and employers are checking social networking sites before they admit students or hire people.
  • Remind your children never to give out their passwords to anyone but you – not even their friends. Explain that if someone has their password, they could post embarrassing and unsafe information about them on their personal pages and even pose as your children to talk to other people.
  • Make sure that children understand that some people they meet online may not be who they say they are. Explain that on the Internet many people are not truthful about their identity and may even pretend to be someone else. It’s important to stress that young people should never meet people face-to-face that they met online.
from the Parents' Guide to Social Networking Websites

The Guidance dept. and i will be holding a parent information night about cyberbullying and Internet awareness later this year....stay tuned!

Other Resources:

Net Cetera
NetCetera - In Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online, OnGuard Online gives adults practical tips to help kids navigate the online world. - created by the FTC -
For Parents, Teacher Librarians, & Technology Educators: AWESOME FREE Bulk Brochures & Bookmarks for home, schools & libraries!

Social Networking Sites: A Parent’s Guide
Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens
Blog Sites, Profile Sites, Diary Sites or Social-Networking Sites
Safe Teens: Texting, Dating, and Safety

The most effective & reliable Internet safety filter is an
involved, informed & aware parent
and an educated & ethical kid.


  1. Love these materials! These will be very useful for my parent's edtech workshops!

  2. This is an excellent resource post for parents and educators. I like the "wireless router in the parents' bedroom" idea!

    I also appreciate your emphasis on "awareness" over "safety". Complete safety on the Internet realy is an illusion, but there are wise choices which can make the online experience a mostly positive, educational one if we encourage others to practice awareness - and kindness.

    Thank you for sharing this information!

  3. I also appreciate your emphasis on "awareness" over "safety". this is really good

  4. Great post, alot of people who use Social Networking
    have the misconception thinkingh that you have to always be online to benefit from them.


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