Beyond Facebook: Top 5 Social Networking/Community Sites for Parent to Watch

kid laptop internetA recent Nielsen study revealed some interesting facts about teens and the web, including the fact that 90% of U.S. teens now have access to the web at home and that the average teen is spending upwards of 24 hours a month online. With summer here, it's no doubt a peak time for kids to run amok on the internet.

While there are plenty of harmless and even fun and useful ways for kids to use the internet, parents need to make sure their teens understand what sites to stay away from and how to keep themselves safe online. After all, Facebook is just the beginning of sites that can get kids into unwanted trouble or unsafe situations.

Today, Catalin Cosoi, a senior researcher for the online safety company BitDefender, provides some great insight into the top social networking/community sites that parents need have on their radar.


Top 5 social Networking/Community Sites That Should Be on Parents’ Radar

1. Chatroulette

What is it? Free site that allows users to have random 1-on-1 webcam chats with people worldwide.

What’s the danger? Unlike most sites containing adult content, no credit card is required and anyone can log on. Studies have shown that most users are 18-24 and 5% to 8% of users were either naked or had the camera focused on their genitals.


What is it? A relatively new social networking site that perpetuates cyber bullying. Teens gather to leave crude and hurtful online comments about one another.

What’s the danger? There is virtually nothing positive about the site although it continues to generate 14 million visits from the US per month. Can definitely be traumatizing for teens and has even resulted in suicide.


What is it? Claims to be a destination for "teen dating" and allows teens as young as 13 to register.

What’s the danger? The site is a watering hole for predators and contains thousands of adult users. Teens on the site divulge their personal contact information and often post inappropriate photos.


What is it? Allows users to rate others photos, meet the people in the photos of which they are rating and “hook up” with others in the same geographic region.

What’s the danger? “Rating” sites such as this are becoming increasingly popular with teenagers. The people in the photos that teens are rating could likely not be who they say they are and teens should know never to “meet up” with online friends offline.   

5. Texts From Last Night

What is it? Site where users can post texts sent to them from the night before along with the area code.

What’s the danger? The site is extremely inappropriate for teens and the content often contains profanity, as well as information about drug usage and sex.

Have you heard of any of these sites? How into the web are your kids?


Image via danhodgett/Flickr

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