From the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

When it comes to technology, kids often are way ahead of adults. But kids, even teens, still need guidance regarding safe use of new technology. Social networking sites are one of the newest ways to interact online. According to comScore Media Metrix data, the three most popular social networking sites are MySpace.com, Facebook.com, and Xanga.com. While they provide ways to keep in touch with friends, they can also be risky if users aren't cautious about the information they post online. The Federal Trade Commission is offering an explanation of social networking sites, and guidance for both parents and their kids about how to safely use them.

Social networking sites encourage information sharing and allow people to make new friends, exchange information, and communicate through personalized Web pages, blogs, chat rooms, e-mail, or instant messaging. The sites take the idea of "friends of friends" to a new level and allow today's tweens, teens, and 20-somethings to turn strangers into new circles of friends, or at least keep in touch with people they have met in the "real world." But social networking sites also can increase exposure to people who have less-than-friendly intentions, including sexual predators.

The FTC is offering tips about staying safe on social networking sites, for both kids and parents, in "Social Networking Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens," and in "Social Networking Sites: A Parent's Guide."

The FTC is working with the National Cyber Security Alliance, Internet Education Foundation, the National Crime Prevention Council, and other non-governmental organizations to get the message out. In addition, the FTC is posting the tips as part of a new section of OnGuard Online, at www.OnGuardOnline.gov/socialnetworking. OnGuardOnline.gov also includes information on social networking sites from the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team and the Department of Homeland Security.