Foster parents must insist that their foster children keep all personal information safe and not post online. As birth parents and family members can easily locate and track their child through a social network site, foster parents can aid their foster child by creating a false name and identity, or pseudonym, for the child as he is online using sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites. Furthermore, foster parents should have access to the child’s Social Network page password, as well as the password for any email addresses. With this access, foster parents will have the ability to view any threatening or disturbing messages or posts the child has either sent or received.
As many foster children long to be accepted and are simply looking for a place to “fit in,” they can easily be acceptable to online hoaxes, as well as cyber predators. Sadly, many foster children fall victim to online sexual predators. Therefore, it is imperative that foster parents teach their foster children not to be gullible while “surfing the net.” Foster parents need to warn their child never to meet a person they have met online in any face to face encounter, and that they should report to their foster parents anyone who has made such a request. Along with this, foster parents need to watch what their foster children are accessing online, whether while they are on the computer, or afterwards, by visiting the sites the child had previously visited.
As mentioned previously, birth parents are finding their children and gaining unsupervised contact with their child. Reports of these occurring are growing at a fast rate. With today’s technology, people can be tracked from photos posted online by using easily accessible technology and simply applying it to a photograph. With very little effort, the location of a person in a person can be deciphered. From there, the person can be tracked down using other forms of technology. Therefore, it is vital that foster children never have a picture of them online, in any avenue, as each picture posted will become part of a digitalized global village, for all to see, and for all to use to determine the location of the child. This includes warning the child about “tagging” himself in a photo that someone else may have posted online. Along with this, it is also necessary that no geographic identifiers be used. Foster parents must make certain that locations such as where the foster child goes to school, church, or any other location are not posted. If a child belongs to a sports team or social group, these also should not be identified online. Birthdates, phone numbers, addresses, or any other information that can be used to identify the location of the foster child should also not be posted online, either.