SOURCE: TrueCare.com

TrueCare.com

July 21, 2011 06:00 ET

TrueCare.com Offers Eight Tips for Protecting Kids From Cyberbullies

Social Media Monitoring Service Helps Keep Teens Safe

CHICAGO, IL--(Marketwire - Jul 21, 2011) - Cyber Safety month is now behind us and the hype of internet safety will quickly die down. To keep internet safety top of mind for parents, today, TrueCare announced 8 easy best practices for monitoring kids' social media sites and internet usage.

TrueCare, a social media monitoring service for parents, allows parents to monitor their child's online social networking activity without invading their child's privacy. More importantly, TrueCare helps parents identify potential online dangers and offers tools and resources to help them navigate parenting in the super social age.

"It's never too early to start talking to your kids about internet dangers, it's important to keep an open dialogue and these conversations need to happen often," said TrueCare advisor and national family safety expert Alison Rhodes, "The Safety Mom." "Bullying, specifically cyberbullying, is an issue that's growing at epidemic proportions. Fortunately, TrueCare helps parents teach their kids about being smart online."

Back to Basics
Eight common sense tips for maintaining a safe internet environment in your home.

1. Discussion. Discussion. Discussion.

Parents must have a good sense about what's going on in their kids' online worlds. Since Facebooking has become a daily routine for kids, it needs to be part of the daily conversation. The more open you are with your kids and facilitate a safe and non-judgmental environment for conversation, the more likely they are to tell you if they come across an issue. While the idea of openness and parenting sometimes seem like they shouldn't go together, imagine this: do you want to talk about things at the dining room table in a calm atmosphere or after something forces the issue?

2. Keep The Computer In A Common Area

Laptops, smart phones, and tablets have allowed us to overlook the cardinal rule of kids on the internet -- keep the communication vehicles in a common area where parents can monitor websites and time allocated to internet activity. Making them mobile makes it even more difficult to monitor and manage. We all grew up without access to the internet on our phones and still managed to survive. Your kids can too.

3. Manners For Texting, E-Mailing Or Chatting Online

As you do in other aspects of your child's life, set the expectations for manners and appropriate behavior in their digital world. Coach them to be respectful and to think carefully before they put their thoughts into written words. Remember, typed communications are not the same as verbal communications. Typed communications can easily be forwarded along to others and can last forever.

4. Understand the Privacy Settings of Social Media Sites

While privacy settings can sometimes be difficult to find and hard to navigate, understanding the privacy settings can save you time and heartache down the road. They control what information people can and can't see and what information is sent out upon posting. Be certain that any settings are set to your preferences. Also remember that Facebook prohibits children under the age of 13 from even having a Facebook account.

5. Posting Pictures -- Interpretation is in the Mind of the Beholder

A picture posted online is not private. A photo sent between cell phones is not private. Make sure that your children are aware that mistakes do happen and so-called private messages go public, or that sometimes people you trust make mistakes in judgment. Once a photo hits Facebook it can be downloaded and reposted across the entire web within hours. Explain that on the internet, nothing is really ever gone, and the consequences of an immature decision will be viewable for years to come.

6. Kids and Adults should Not Be Friends

You and your kids should be connected in social media so you can monitor their behavior. However, you may need to be careful with their connections to other adults because of the adult content that person and their friends can bring to your kids' social networks.

7. Teach children what to do if they get an offensive or threatening IM, e-mail, or chat room post

According to the National Crime Prevention Center, in 2010 over 40% of children were the victim of an online bully. Of that number, 90% never discussed the situation with their parents. The more conversations you have with your kids about what occurs online, the more likely they will be to talk to you about what's going on. Take every opportunity to teach them how to manage themselves in confusing situations.

8. If Your Child Has A Social Media Account, They Are At Risk.

No one can hide on the internet. A social media account means that a child's personal information is available in a search engine. Be certain that content is managed appropriately. Performing a Google search every once in a while may be a good idea to make sure that you're aware of your kids' online presence.

About TrueCare
TrueCare developed this best-of-breed service, in conjunction with parents as a way to effectively monitor their child's online social networking activity without invading their child's privacy. TrueCare helps parents identify potential online dangers and keep an open dialog with their children about their online safety. For more information please contact TrueCare at 1-877-368-6390 or visit them online at www.truecare.com.