By Lindsay Newman

School is out, summer is here and it’s time to protect yourself… and we’re not just talking about the sun. While it is time to lacquer on the SPF for sun protection, there’s another potential summer hazard to be wary of: Facebook.

It’s become the norm these days for students to chronicle their summer vacations. Mobile phones now allow for status updates and new photos in real time, but this can potentially lead to some problems.

While it may seem innocent enough at the time, liking your friend’s edgy comments, posting a suggestive status update, or posting an *ahem* alcohol-induced photo could potentially come back to haunt you.

Why? Because your Facebook profile is an extension of your reputation.

In this Internet age, job recruiters are looking at social networking sites before hiring prospective employees and that moment of spontaneity could potentially result in you not landing that dream job.

Meanwhile, a different type of a hazard has the potential to increase during the summer months that targets those most vulnerable: children.

Consumer Reports recently reported that of the 20 million minors who actively use Facebook, 7.5 million are younger than 13.

With extra time on their hands and parents at work, the younger set has the potential to spend hours on the social networking site. This could not only result in an increase in cyber bullying by peers, but could also lead to “friending” people who aren’t who they say they are.

People of all ages need to be aware of the potential dangers and possible repercussions that exist in cyberspace.

Some of LMGPR’s very own clients have joined the fight for safety & personal accountability online.

Reppler is a Facebook application that will alert you every time you or someone in your network uses profanity or offensive language that could affect your reputation. It provides 24-hour monitoring, something that even the most dedicated Facebook user can’t do. The result is immediate awareness and the ability to act upon inappropriate content.

 SocialGuard, a product of Check Point Security, allows parents to monitor all activity on their child’s Facebook account, wherever they use Facebook, without having to “friend” their child. SocialGuard provides parents peace of mind knowing they can keep an eye on their child as their tween/teen experiences social networking sites without encroaching on their privacy.   In addition, SocialGuard fosters open communication between parent and child/teen by alerting the parent to any safety issues that the child might be uncomfortable discussing.

The message here is simple: don’t let your summer become a bummer! LMGPR wants your summer to be a safe one! Keep your online reputation in check, talk to your kids, and always wear sunscreen!