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Online Safety: Watching Your Kids On Facebook And Elsewhere

By Kate Merrill, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Facebook revealed this week that it is kicking off thousands of underage users everyday.

It’s a good reminder to parents that you need to be very involved in our kids’ online lives.

WBZ-TV’s Kate Merrill reports

With 600 million users and counting, it seems like everyone is on Facebook.

Just like other things their older counterparts do, ‘tweens’ aged 8 to 12 are eager to get on too, despite the site’s minimum age of 13.

Reports say Facebook is booting about 20,000 underage users everyday, a percentage that might seem small, but the implications for those youngsters, can be big.

Conduct they have online and offline affects their future, it affects their reputation, and it affects what jobs they might get in the future.

Like anything else, experts say parents should decide when their child is ready to have a social networking presence and the level of involvement they’ll have in their kid’s social life, whether it’s sharing a password, or ‘friending’ mom and dad.

While parents worry about the potential perils, it could be equally detrimental to cut kids off.

The reality is, at some point they’re going to want to go in, so you might as well give them the tools that they need, the education they need, to the awareness.

To get them familiar with social networking, there are junior sites, like Togetherville, Scuttle Pad and Everloop that require parental guidance to get started and let younger kids connect only with other tweens.

That way, when they’re old enough, they’re ready to graduate to the grownup sites.

There are also programs that let you monitor what your kids are doing online.

“Norton Online Safety” lets you set time limits on Facebook and shows you what your child is sharing online.

“Piggyback” is a free program that is integrated with Facebook and lets a parent monitor the pages and games their child is playing on Facebook.

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