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Connecting Generations: Social Media Steps Up

But safety remains a concern for those using social media sites to connect with family

Something You'd Like to Share With the Rest of Us?

E-communication has become more common, sure, but not everyone is rushing online to broadcast their business far and wide. Younger people are warier of sharing content with parents or grandparents: Nearly half restrict what their parents can view when the older folks visit their personal social network pages. And the screening cuts both ways; more than 30 percent of parents shield some or all of their content from inspection by their children.

If there’s a big loser in these trends, it’s the good old telephone. Though 75 percent of older respondents name the phone as the device they use most often to communicate with family members, that percentage drops to 69 percent among the younger set, where computers and mobile devices are quickly becoming the preferred means of communication.

Don’t dial-a-dirge for the phone quite yet, though: Sixty-three percent of the younger set — more than double the rate of the older group — prefer to communicate with family members via text message.

Family Online Safety Tips

Make connecting online safely a family affair

Use social networks more safely

  • Look for Settings or Options in services like Facebook and Twitter to manage who can see your profile or photos tagged with your name, how people can search for you and make comments, and how to block people.
  • Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want to see on a billboard.
  • Be selective about accepting friends; regularly reassess who has access to your pages, and review what they post about you.

Help protect sensitive personal information

  • Before you enter sensitive data, look for signs that a webpage is secure — a Web address with “https” and a closed padlock beside it.
  • Never give sensitive info (like an account number or password) or call a number in response to a request in email or IM or on a social network.
  • Think carefully before you respond to pleas for money from “family members,” deals that sound too good to be true or other scams.

Parents and grandparents should have regular conversations with kids, keeping communications open:

  • Negotiate clear guidelines for Web, mobile and online game use that fit your children’s maturity level and your family values.
  • Watch your kids for signs of online bullying, such as being upset when they are online or a reluctance to go to school.
  • Be the administrator of your home computer; use age-appropriate family safety settings to help you keep track of what your kids are doing online. For example, in all editions of the Windows 7 operating system, you can create separate accounts for each family member. Using Parental Controls (found in Control Panel), you can:

- Specify the exact days and times when children can use the computer;

- Prevent kids from playing certain games, based on title, content or age-rating;

- Block access to certain programs — for example, those that store sensitive financial data;

  • To keep communications open, the Parental Controls icon is always visible so children know when the feature is in use.
  • Pay attention to what kids do and whom they meet online. Revisit regularly.

Prime Time Focus on
Safer Internet Day

Alyne Ellis talks with a security expert at Microsoft about Safer Internet Day, and what tools are available to educate users on security, privacy and online safety.

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