Children and the Internet
When used safely, social media sites can be a great way for teens to keep in touch with friends. However, both children and parents should be aware of the dangers of posting identifying information or photos that strangers can access.

In 2016, 859,500 sex offenders were on the national sex offender registry, 17,175 of whom were from North Carolina. 

Some social media sites remove pages created by registered sex offenders. In 2009, My Space found and deleted 90,000 profiles. More than 21,000 were from North Carolina. These accounts were used by registered sex offenders who used their real names and real addresses. Some offenders register accounts with fictitious names to avoid detection.

This information on internet safety is intended to be a guide for both parents and children in using social media safely. However, the technology changes rapidly, and users should stay abreast of possible misuse of any social media site by predators. Users of any type of social media should always guard their personal information and ensure they are engaging in safe online behavior.

Watch a video: Keeping Kids Safe on the Internet

How Parents can reduce risks to children using the Internet

While children need a certain amount of privacy, they also need parental involvement and supervision in their daily lives. The same parenting skills that apply to the real world also apply online.

  • If you have cause for concern about your children's online activities, talk to them.
  • Seek out advice from teachers, and librarians among others.
  • Get online yourself. Become proficient in internet use.
  • If your child tells you about an upsetting message, person, or web site encountered online, don't blame your child but help him or her avoid problems in the future.
  • Remember—how you respond will determine whether they confide in you the next time there is a problem.

Some Guidelines for Parents

  • Never give out identifying information. Use email addresses that do not spell out your name.
  • Get to know the internet and any services your child uses. 
  • Find out your child's online activities, whether they have an email account.
  • Learn their user names and passwords.
  • Get to know your child's online friends.
  • Never allow a child to arrange a face-to-face meeting on the internet without your knowledge.
  • Never respond to messages that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening or make you feel uncomfortable.
  • Remember that everything you read online may not be true.
  • Remember people online may not be who they seem.
  • Set reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use for your children.
  • Consider applying these guidelines to cell phone use and other aspects of your child's life.

Cyber Tipline from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children