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Daily Q&A: What tips are there for keeping children safe while using social networking Web sites?

What tips can you offer about keeping my child safe while using social networks online?

Social networking creates many great opportunities as well as challenges, in particular when it comes to children. Protecting personal information is critical.

"Even though some parents may be intimidated by technology, they need to supervise their child's computer use in the house as well as educate their kids on how to play it safe online," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Chicago.

Bernas says you should explain to your kids they should never share phone numbers, address, bank account numbers, passwords or their Social Security numbers. And determine what photos and language are appropriate.

Here are other tips Bernas suggests:

• Set strict privacy settings — Social networking sites let users determine who they want to share information with. Talk to your child about restricting access to his or her profile to only friends or users in safe networks such as their school, clubs or church groups.

• Keep the channels of communication open — Let your kids know that you are always ready to talk if they are ever threatened, bullied or feel uncomfortable about an experience they had online.

• Federal law requires sites collecting identifying information from children under 13 to get a parent's consent first. Report concerns about data collection from children under 13 to the Children's Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus at www.caru.org/complaint.

Question for the Consumer's Edge? Send it to ipenn@sptimes.com or twitter.com/consumers_edge. Questions are answered only in this daily feature.

Daily Q&A: What tips are there for keeping children safe while using social networking Web sites? 03/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, March 5, 2010 2:26pm]
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