As the social networking craze is growing among teens, cable, TV company Comcast suggests these tips to maintain privacy while using the online networks. It says parents should become familiar with networks like Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace to advise their children about the importance of being safe and smart while communicating online.

A similar study shows that teen girls who depict themselves online in a provocative way and who have a history of child abuse are more likely to receive online sexual advances. Then they meet those individuals offline. It suggests parents should know how their teenage girls present themselves online. (Read: Is Internet Bad for Teen Girls?)

“Social networking sites can be great resources for staying in contact with people, reconnecting with old friends, meeting people with common interests, and getting questions answered, but unfortunately not everyone who uses the Internet and social networking sites has honest intentions,” said Jay Opperman, senior director of Security and Privacy at Comcast.

So here are the Comcast tips:

Choose your pictures wisely: If you decide to post a picture of yourself online, be very cautious about what you post.

Don’t talk to strangers and use privacy settings: Some people are looking to prey on children and teens online. Social networking sites have privacy settings so you can control who can see your personal page.

Keep your personal information personal: Don’t share personal information such as your last name, parents’ or siblings’ names, phone number, address, social security number, or where you like to hang out. People with dishonest intentions can use this information to find you or steal your identity.

Don’t be a cyberbully: Don’t bully people online or in person. You wouldn’t appreciate a schoolmate or even a stranger posting embarrassing or harassing information about you or threatening you online so don’t do that to someone else.

Go outside and stay active: Spend time with family and friends in person. Walk the dog, learn how to play an instrument, get involved in sports and other extracurricular after-school activities. Real life connections with family, friends, and those most important to you should be one of your top priorities.

My Techbox Online adds: You’d agree that social networks can’t substitute traditional social relationships. While there’s a noisy hoo-hah around social networks, they are nothing more than some free hangouts for gullible youngsters who want to have some “cheap virtual fun” – sometimes even with fake identities. (Read: Twitter TV On, Twitter TV Off)

While parents need to guide their children on the safe use of social networks, they can also tell them to stay away from these networks as far as possible because of the uncultured atmosphere on most such sites.

Click here for more Social Networking news.

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About Rakesh Raman

Have extensive editorial, content management, and integrated communications experience and have worked as a senior tech journalist, analyst, and columnist with different newspapers, magazines, and Web/online properties in India.

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