An investigation by Computing Which? magazine suggests that social networking sites are not doing enough to protect children online. The survey found that children could easily be exposed to online bullying, pornography or predators through such sites. Most social networking sites simply allow anyone to join up with no checks being made. The few that do provide checks have limited protections in place for children. As always online, parental knowledge is essential in helping reduce the risks. If you have children and don’t understand the phenomenon of social networking and social bookmarking sites you need to wise up. Get to know these sites, sign up as a member yourself so you can see what goes on. That way you’ll discover what dangers your children may be exposed to. However, it is worthwhile remembering that social networking sites have huge positive advantages as well. They provide children with a social experience in the high tech world that until recently was lacking. Social networking sites can replicate clubs, playgrounds and so on in ways that are interesting and approachable for children. Children should certainly be allowed to take part in such sites as MySpace and Bebo, but within limits.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+