Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, oh my! Talking to your child about social networking

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The Beginners Guide to Internet Acronyms

ASAP: as soon as possible

ASL: age, sex, location

B/c: because

B4: before

BBL: be back later

Bf: boyfriend

BRB: be right back

BTW: by the way

CYA: see you

DIY: do it yourself

DL: download

ETA: estimated time of arrival

FAQ: frequently asked questions

FYI: for your information

Gb: goodbye

Gf: girlfriend

GR8: great

HOAS: hold on a second

IDK: I don’t know

J/K: just kidding

L8: late

L8R: later

LOL: laughing out loud

NC: no comment

Ne1: anyone

NM: not much/never mind

NP: no problem

OMG: oh my gosh

PIR: people in room

Pls: please

Ppl: people

Qt: cutie

SOS: someone over shoulder

Thx: thanks

TMI: too much information

TTFN: ta-ta for now

TTYL: talk to you later

Txt: text

Ty: thank you

VM: voicemail

W/: with

W/e: whatever

W/o: without

W8: wait

WB: write back

XOXO: hugs and kisses

ZZZ: sleeping

In the olden days, children and teens communicated with friends primarily by talking on the telephone, writing a note or speaking face-to-face. My, how things have changed.

Today, students can send text messages on their cell phones and communicate online with their BFF (best friends forever) or with people they don’t know, and this makes it difficult for parents to monitor their child’s online activities. In January 2009, Facebook reported that it has 150 million active users. According to Common Sense Media, 55 percent of teens have an online profile on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace.

“Social networking sites can be great resources for staying in contact with people, reconnecting with old friends, meeting people with common interests and getting questions answered; but, unfortunately, not everyone who uses the Internet and social networking sites has honest intentions,” says Jay Opperman, senior director of security and privacy at Comcast.

Keep these tips in mind when talking to your children about social networks:

TIP 1 — Choose your pictures wisely.

If you decide to post a picture of yourself online, be very cautious. Pictures can say a thousand words.

“Do not use a picture that will embarrass you five years down the road because, even if you delete the picture, it will never go away. What goes online, stays online,” Opperman says. “Think about these questions: If I post this picture, could it prevent me from getting a scholarship or a job in the future? What if the person or persons I share my picture with, shares it with others?”

TIP 2 — Don’t talk to strangers. Use privacy settings.

Sometimes people aren’t always who they say they are. The Internet provides an additional means of being anonymous. Remember, not everyone in the world has your best interests at heart. Some people are looking to prey on children and teens online. Social networking sites have privacy settings so you can control who can see your personal page. The settings can’t protect you 100 percent, but they are helpful. Make sure you set up a privacy setting so only your friends can see your page.

TIP 3 — Keep your personal information personal.

Don’t share personal information such as your last name, parents’ or siblings’ names, phone number, address, social security number or where you like to hang out. People with dishonest intentions can use this information to find you or steal your identity.

TIP 4 — Don’t be a cyberbully.

You wouldn’t appreciate a schoolmate or even a stranger posting embarrassing or harassing information about you or threatening you online so don’t do that to someone else. Some states are passing anti-cyberbullying laws.

TIP 5 — Go outside and stay active.

Technology is fascinating and it keeps us connected in so many ways, but don’t let the Internet disconnect you from other things. Real life connections with family and friends should be one of your top priorities.

For more safety tips and resources, go to www.comcast.net/security.

Courtesy of Metro Creative Connection