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Darien Parents Learn Online Safety Tips

It's important for parents to learn about social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, so that they can better understand the risks their children are taking when they put information online, Darien parent Elise Bulie says.

"I'm here to learn what my kids already know," Bulie said at a talk at the YWCA given by Andrew Vazzano, social media manager for Main Street Connect , parent company of The Daily Darien. "I think parents need to be one step ahead. Children can be silly, they can have thousands of friends on Facebook that they don't even know."

Linda Hinkley said her children are too young for Facebook but will want it someday.

"I still feel behind in many of the advances and nuances of technology programs that are available," said Hinkley. "I cannot guide my children of if I'm ignorant of many of the features. I want to be informed so I can be better prepared."

In the talk, Vazzano walked the parents through the different privacy settings on Facebook, which can be confusing to even the most tech-savvy person. He taught the parents about how to control who sees their information by customizing their settings to "Friends Only" instead of "Everyone," so that only people that they know can see their posts and photos.

Parents were diligently taking notes as Vazzano talked about apps that can access a user's basic information such as interests, email addresses, birthdays and friends' information. "When you use Facebook, you need to be aware of who you want as a friend and what apps you want to use," Vazzano said. Information such as birthdays can be used to steal identities. If photos are marked so that anyone can see them, prospective employers may decide to turn down job seekers based on embarrassing online content.

Bulie said, "Kids don't understand it enough, and it can get them into trouble." She called some of the information "mind boggling."

"I think a lot of parents don't realize what they're exposing their kids to with these sites," said Carol Huffert. "This is out of our control. We need to monitor our kids, make sure that they're cautious about what they put online and what they verbalize."

What do you think of allowing kids to use Facebook? Do you monitor their activities and their privacy settings? Join the conversation on Facebook .

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