Why it’s great
When you install file sharing software, your computer becomes part of the P2P service's network — meaning that you can easily search for and download almost all the music, videos and photos you want. But don’t forget that others users can search and move files to and from your computer as well.
The not so great: spyware, viruses, and piracy
Since P2P is really just a series of computers that share files, you can be at risk for viruses and spyware when you download files from users you don’t know in the real world.
Spyware is a small program hidden in a downloadable file that essentially “spies” on your computer. Just like a real spy, spyware is unseen and can do anything from slow your computer down to track your passwords and credit card numbers.
P2P viruses, like trojans, can turn your computer into a zombie, controlled by an outside user. This outside user uses thousands of zombie PCs to email spam ads or even attack other websites. Definitely not cool.
Many file sharing networks contain copyrighted material. Uploading or downloading material that you don’t own the copyright to is called online piracy and can have severe consequences including hefty fines and even jail time. Remember if you could have bought it in a store but were able to download it for free it is probably illegal.
Set it up together!
As a family, pick a reputable file-sharing site and setup an account together. To avoid downloading illegal files or viruses choose a site where you pay for the content.
Top concerns for file sharing:
Check your preferences! Make sure personal files are not accessible by the P2P network.
Always ask an adult before you download a file.
Copyright laws apply to the Internet. Make sure your P2P site has legal files.
Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs up to date.
Avoid chatting on P2P with users you don’t know in the real world — not everyone online is who they say they are!
Get more tips on how you can make file sharing safer for your kids
Be clear that the preferences and options in each peer-to-peer (P2P) program are configured for maximum computer and child security.
Whenever possible, use file sharing programs that have private sharing features, which only allow sharing between designated friends.
Install an anti-spyware application. Scan and delete spyware weekly.
As a family, develop a budget for free and legal music download sites like iTunes, MSN Music, Google Play, Spotify etc.