Did you know that the most likely way for an online predator to "friend" your child is in a chat room or via an instant messaging forum? Are you aware that if your child types "PANB" on the keyboard, they're letting their friends know that "parents are nearby?" Or that based on a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, kids spend an average of 1.5 hours on the computer each day?

There are too many cyber access points for kids. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube — the list goes on. Parents need to be aware of the safety concerns when children and social media mix.

Why Not Use One of the Very Tools of Concern to Learn How You Can Protect Your Child?

Join Alison Rhodes, known as The Safety Mom, on Wednesday, September 21st from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. EST for a Twitter Party. Rhodes is partnering with TrueCare, an internet monitoring program, to present "Social Media and Your Child: What Every Parent Must Know." Rhodes and psychotherapist Mary Jorapini will be sharing online safety tips and discussing the newest technology for keeping children safe online.

Some of the topics being discussed include:

  • Specific dangers associated with social network sites, such as cyberbullying, damaged reputations and online predators
  • Knowing if your child is ready (age, maturity) to join social network sites
  • The best way to protect children online
  • Your school's role in protecting kids on social network sites
  • Spying vs. privacy: Is monitoring your children's online activities violating their privacy?
  • TrueCare tools to help parents stay informed about their child's use of social network sites
  • Discussions to have with your child about using social networking sites

How to Join the Discussion

To join the discussion, follow @safetymom and @TrueCare, using the hashtag #TrueCare to join the party. Three random participants will receive a six-month subscription to try the TrueCare online monitoring system and a $50 Amazon gift card.

Parents with tweens and teens will definitely want to check out this Twitter party. But parents like myself, who have elementary-aged students, can also benefit. I was shocked today to learn of a friend's son being cyberbullied by a classmate through Facebook. They're both in fifth grade! Social media is here to stay, and its users are getting younger and younger. The best thing parents can do is try staying ahead of the social media learning curve.

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