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Your kid on the net

Question

Social networks

If you child is on a social network, like Facebook, there’s a
good chance her profile can be picked up by search engines. In
order to keep a Facebook profile from showing up on an Internet
search, go to account and select “Privacy Settings.” Click “Apps
and Websites,” then “Public search,” and then uncheck the box that
says “Enable public search.” Look for other search settings on
sites like Bebo, Twitter and Foursquare.

Performances, sports and achievements

Anything that is posted in your school or community newspaper
may linger in a search engine. Athletic team rosters, sports
results or fine arts performances published in the newspaper or on
a printed program may be published to the Internet, too. Contest,
award or scholarship winners are frequently announced in the media
and often end up on the Web.

News and announcements

School announcements posted on your school’s website may be
cached for years. Even if your child was just the morning
announcer, her name may end up online.

Directories, organizational charts and memberships

If your child’s name is listed in a directory associated with a
group, team or school, her name could be published online.
Volunteer groups and fundraising events often list event
participant names.

When I Googled my child’s name, all sorts of links appeared-including a church program listing her as a member of the choir. How can I get all these links offline?

Answer

Appropriate netiquette and safety awareness generally requires parental permission to publish the name of a child in print. Many parents, however, will find that that permission unintentionally ends up overflowing to the Internet.

For instance, while you may have given permission for your child’s name to be printed in the church bulletin, you may not have known that bulletin was published as a searchable document on the Internet.

Can you get the online content off? It may be hard to delete all the links to your child’s name, but you can start by deleting accounts and online subscriptions your child does not use. While the mere mention of your child’s name may not be cause for alarm, other identifying information that provides data on your child’s home address or daily schedule might be considered a security issue.

Try putting your child’s name into several different search engines-Google, Yahoo, Bing and Ask. Identify each listing and decide whether the information is identifying.

To remove articles, programs or announcements that list your child’s full name, you’ll need to contact each organization that is posting particular content and ask that the information be removed. For tags on photos or comments connected to a friend’s public site, your daughter will need to contact the friend and ask that the items be removed.

Even if you can delete most content and turn off the search functions on social networks, keeping your child’s identity offline will be a constant challenge and one that she will soon need to be responsible for herself. Sit down with your child, show her the results and talk about the importance of privacy.

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