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McKenzie’s Monologue

By Staff
Use caution when using Internet sites
By Adrienne McKenzie
There are certain fads over the Internet that are fun, but could also be considered as hazardous.
I admit that I am guilty of checking my email, Facebook and MySpace on a daily basis and that I am disappointed when I don’t have new comments or messages.
For those who are not aware of the Facebook and MySpace trend, let me fill you in. These are Internet sites that allow you to keep in touch with your friends. You can look at their posted pictures, check their relationship status, see what their interests are, etc. It is a lot of fun to play on these sites when you have some free time and want to see what an old high school pal has been up to recently. I have friends on these sites that I have not spoken to in years, but have reunited with through the Web. I love that I can just go to a Web page and see what the newest events are in people’s lives.
But these sites could be potentially dangerous. I once attended a seminar conducted by Captain Timothy Hawsey with the Flomaton Police Department.
Capt. Hawsey shared important information about cyber crimes and the use of the Internet.
Hawsey said one way individuals get themselves into trouble while using the Internet is by creating a profile on one of the social networking Web sites. He said at the time that 61 percent of 13-17 year olds had personal profiles and half of those teens had posted pictures of themselves. The Web site could allow complete strangers to see what the teen looks like, where they live, where they go to school and much more personal information that could be dangerous in the wrong hands.
Now, like I said, I have both a Facebook and a MySpace page that has my picture on it and some personal information. But, I have both pages on the setting where only my “friends” on the site can see my information. Strangers who look up my name will not learn anything about my identity, they will simply see my name.
For someone like me who is out of high school and college, I do not see the problem with having these sites because they help me keep up with some great friends who otherwise I would probably never talk to.
But I do not know if a pre-teen should have a site like this because of the dangerous people in the world.
If you do have a social networking profile, no matter what age you are, please be cautious. Don’t accept “friend requests” from strangers and be sure to set your profile to private. Also don’t chat with people you don’t know because you never know who you are actually talking to.
Parents, keep a close eye on your child’s Internet activity in order to keep their safety.
If you try to keep your information safe, there is no reason why you should not be able to chat with your buddies via these sites.
Adrienne McKenzie is managing editor for The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 368-2123 or emailed at lifestyles@atmoreadvance.com