16:18 05 November 2010
Social networking is a great way of keeping in touch with old classmates, arranging nights out with current friends and letting everyone know how happy you are by uploading pictures of your latest trip to Paris.
The likes of Facebook and Twitter have grown so much in popularity over the past few years that movies have been made about them and even politicians have accounts.
There is a grim matter to social networking, however, as it can be a paedophile or fraudsters ideal platform to gain information and images about the personal lives of their victims.
Take a look at how you can enjoy the websites with the threat of predators watching your every move.
Keep personal information private
When you set up a Facebook, Twitter or Myspace, the first thing they ask you to do is provide what could be classed as sensitive information about yourself.
You not only provide your name, email address, date of birth and pictures of yourself, but also where you grew up, your interests and hobbies and sometimes your mobile number.
Most of this information can be kept private and you should keep it so; think about it, anyone who views your profile would have everything they need to know in order to fraud you.
Never put your mobile number, bank details or full address on, no matter who asks for it.
Beware of passwords
Think your account is safe with a password? Think again.
Most people use their mothers maiden name as their password or hint and this information can be easily gained.
Ensure that your password is easy for you to remember but very hard for others; stay away from information thats readily available too such as your middle name, partners name, your pet or your old school.
Going away? Dont get too excited
Nothing makes us happier than the thought of a trip away, but do you really need to announce it to everyone who knows you and where you live?
Potential thieves would love to know that your house will be empty for two weeks whilst youre sunning yourself in the Caribbean, so keep any holiday happiness until your return, when you can upload all your snaps.
Also, never reveal what you will be doing at certain times. Again, this could help burglars know the times youll be out. This is very important information you should stop your youngsters from posting too.
Remember to keep your cool
Everyone does it they go on a night out and the embarrassing pictures slowly start to emerge the following day, but did you know that your boss or potential employer will look at social networking sites to gain an all round better picture of you?
So, you may want to de-tag the picture of you sticking two-fingers up or delete the four-letter expletive from your Tweets. Slagging off work colleagues or your boss will not do you any favours.
Also, ensure that if you are pulling a sickie, dont post that youre going on a shopping trip!
Keep it secret, Keep it safe
If youre worried about who can see your details, then always keep your profile set to private. You wont be seen on Google either, so random people cant just look you up.
This again is essential for your youngsters.
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