ChildrenOnline

Devoted to the safety of children and teens online

Social Networks

The Internet is an ever-changing source of information. Inevitably, some of the links below will stop working. We will do our best to keep links current and remove broken links. Below you will find just a sampling of the hundreds of online resources and articles related to social networks.

Our Advice
The topic of social networks, children and teens is quite broad with opinions spread widely apart. Children Online always chooses to err on the side of caution and recommend what is in the best interest of the child/teen. Our research and many years working with students and parents has demonstrated that most are not aware of the inherent risks of social networks. We strongly recommend reading our articles published during the last few years:
   "Why Facebook Has It Wrong About Our Kids" [pdf]
   EDITORIAL: Mark Zuckerberg Has it Wrong!
   "The Impact of Facebook on Our Students" [pdf], which was published on the National Association of Independent Schools website and also in a 2009 issue of the Journal for School Library Professionals.

We do not recommend that teens under 16 have social networking accounts with adult sites such as Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and BeBo. We know, all too well however, that the majority of children age thirteen and up have social network accounts. We strongly recommend that parents have access to their children's accounts and regularly check on them, as well as have discussions about issues related to social networks.

Social networks are certainly not evil. There are, of course, many positive and valuable outcomes to using them. However, children and teens are most vulnerable for a wide variety of reasons (read the above articles) and anyone using social networks can assume the following:

  1. There is no such thing as privacy, even with accounts that require a login and password.
  2. The information we post in our social networks is scrubbed for data valuable to others including scammers and marketers. Our safety is not their first or second priority!
  3. Teens' "private" pages have been viewed by school administrators, teachers, parents, police, summer camp direcctors, college admissions officers, employers, and others, sometimes resulting in serious consequences for the teen.
  4. Social Networks such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn attract a great deal of scams, fraud and theft.
  5. People are not always who they say they are and do not always have our best interests in mind.
  6. Social Networks are the weapon of choice for teens intent on hurting, humiliating or embarssing someone else.
  7. Even in "moderated" social networks designed for younger children and tweens, such as Webkinz, Club Penguin and WeeWorld, children are subjected to bullying, harassment and sexual solicitation.
  8. Children and younger teens regularly using social networks are more likely to be exposed to content and behavior that is not age-appropriate.
  9. Many Add-On applications (sometimes called widgets or apps) for social networks such as Facebook and MySpace are disguised adware, spyware or designed to steal our personal data for sale or identity theft.

SourceSafety and Privacy in Social Networks
Article7 Days to modify FB's Timeline before others see it [Jan. 26, 2012]
ArticleFacebook's New Features May Not Be As Private As You Think [Sept. 25, 2011]
ArticleFacebook stores up to 800 pages of data per user
ArticleExperiment collects huge amounts of data from Facebook users
ArticleTeens Shed Privacy Using Facebook Apps
ArticleTeens: Private Information Not So Private on Facebook By Liz Essley; Washington Examiner
ArticleDo you really know your Facebook friends? By Heather Podvey, ApplyWise.com
ArticleAbout Facebook and Privacy....again. By Ryan Singel; Wired.com
ArticleThe Unofficial Facebook Privacy Guide created by Angela Alcorn
ArticleHarvard Profs Speak Out on Facebook & Privacy from the Harvard U Newsroom
ArticleLarry Magid's Interview with Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg - Podcast [May, 2010]
ArticleHow Should Facebook and MySpace Handle Cyberbullying? By Emily Bazelon; Slate.com
ArticleSocial networking phishing attacks up 240% By Kelly Jackson Higgins; DarkReading.com
ArticleWhen Young Teachers Go Wild on the Web - Public Profiles Raise Questions of Propriety and Privacy By Ian Shapira; Washington Post
ArticleCollege Applicants, Beware: Your Facebook Page Is Showing By John Hechinger; Wall Street Journal
ArticleColleges and Universities using MySpace, Facebook, Blogs and Other Online Tools to Learn More about Applicants By John Hoey; Umass Dartmouth
ArticleChildren and Facebook Addiction
ArticleTeens Accept Friend Requests From Stangers
OpinionDoes Facebook Really Care About You?
OpinionIs Facebook Trying to Kill Privacy?
ResourceSearch Facebook Accounts from YourOpenBook.org - Learn what is publicly available on Facebook accounts
ResourceWho's Looking at You? By Holly Hawkins; SafetyClicks.com
ResourceProtect Kids On MySpace: Larry Magid Says The Popular Web Site Attracts Predators, Too
ResourceOne Friend Facebook Hasn't Made Yet: Privacy Rights By Adam Cohen; New York Times
ResourceDoing Something Sketchy? It's hard to cover up now! By Susan Dominus; New York Times
YouTube VideoSetting Up Privacy Settings in Google+
SourceSocial Networks in the News
ArticleWhy Facebook is After Your Kids (NY Times)
ArticleInterview with an Anonymous Facebook Employee
ArticleWhy Facebook is Wrong: Privacy is still important
ArticleACLU Calls for Stronger Facebook Privacy Defaults
ArticleFB Privacy: 10 Settings Every User Needs to Know
Article10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know from AllFacebook.com
CNNFacebook Imposters on the Rise
N.Y. TimesFacebook Honesty Box: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Post... By Joanne Kaufman, New York Times
N.Y. TimesHow Sticky is Membership on Facebook? Just Try Breaking Free. by Maria Aspa; New York Times
ArticleGirl, 14, faces porn charge of MySpace pictures of herself
SourceScams and Fraud Targeting Social Networks
ResourceFaceCrooks.com - Learn about the latest scams targeting Facebook users
ResourceFacebook Password Reset Scam Goes Global
ResourceSocial Media Malware: How to spot it & avoid it
ResourceRecommendations to protect against identity theft on Facebook
ResourceBest Practices to Avoid Malware on Facebook and Twitter
ResourceFive Facebook Scams - includes a slideshow of 12 tips for safe social networking
ResourceTop 6 Facebook Scams and How to Protect Yourself
ArticleWARNING: New Facebook Scams Today, Junfunrun and Bulitre
ArticleBetter Business Bureau Warns of Facebook Scams
ArticleDeja Vu: New Scams Hit Facebook and Twitter
ArticleHow Smart Are You? IQ Test Scams Facebook Users
ArticleScam sites increasingly masquerading as Facebook, MySpace
ArticleMalware is Most Potent on Social Networks
SourceResources for Teens and Parents Concerning Social Networks
How toDELETE a Facebook account (login required)
How toHow to better secure your Facebook account
How toHow to set Facebook privacy controls from Common Sense Media [March, 2010]
How to5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (& Private) on Facebook by Sarah Perez
ResourceBeSeen App - Social Media skill game for teens
ResourceSocial Network Profile Protector
ResourceHow to Access Facebook Safer Through Mobile Devices
ResourceFacebook Phishing Scam Awareness Group - for those with a Facebook account.
ResourceSocial Network Tips from CommonSenseMedia.org
ResourceFaceCrooks.com - Exposing scams on Facebook daily
ResourceSocial Networking Sites: A Parents' Guide from OnGuardOnline.gov
ResourceHow to Use Facebook Privacy Settings from ConnectSafely.org
ResourceSafe Social Networking - This site is especially designed for girls.
ResourceYourSphere - Safety First Social Network for Teens
ResourceFacebook for Parents - A site devoted to helping parents understand Facebook. Produces a free newsletter.
ResourceTest Your Knowledge on Social Networking Safety from GirlScouts.org Short and well done.
ResourceFTC: Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens
ResourceTen Ideas for Facebook Controls
ResearchStatistics on Girls and Social Media
ResearchReputation Management and Social Media - a study from the PEW Internet and American Life Porject.
SoftwareGoGoStat Parental Guidance - Monitor unsafe activity on Facebook
SourceChildren's Social Networks
Undercover ResearchUndercover Mom in ClubPenguin, Part 4: The 'dating' game
ArticleTop 8 Workarounds of Kid Virtual World Users
ResourceSharon Estroff's web site - Sharon, a mom & teacher, does a lot of investigating of children's social networks such as Club Penguin, and other children's sites.
BlogMore Scandals in Club Penguin
BlogWebkinz Bullying NOTE from ChildrenOnline.org: The most common way in which younger children are taken advantage of online is by sharing the passwords of their online accounts with others.