My children use MySpace from time to time and I have seen them share information that they really ought to keep private.
With MySpace being a social site that is open to anyone aged 14 or over there are a great many teenagers who are part of the global MySpace community.
Is your child one of them?
For many younger people MySpace offers the opportunity to express themselves and their creativity and feelings.
It is also a great opportunity to make new friends or stay in touch with people they already know.
However, everyone needs to be aware of the dangers posed on the internet, particularly in such social communities.
I believe that making your kids aware of the potential dangers of the internet is essential.
However, it is still a parent’s responsibility to oversee what their children are doing and to keep them safe.
MYSPACE SECURITY FOR KIDS
Kids who use MySpace, or the internet in general for that matter, should be constrained by a few household rules in order to safeguard them.
The following general internet rules can help minimise the potential dangers that they may face -
- Do not allow your kids to post their full name and address online.
This measure will help to prevent stalking which could become a problem if online predators know where your child lives.
It will also minimise the risks of your child becoming a victim of identity theft.
- Restrict internet usage to specific periods of the day.
This can prevent overuse of the Internet and allow better monitoring of their activities.
- Do not allow your children to meet online friends in person without your consent.
Better still, try to arrange for both sets of parents to be present, or for any meetings to take place in a well lit, public location as opposed to a secluded spot such as an individual’s home.
- Do not respond to threats or harassment.
Kids should be taught to ignore this type of behavior and/or to report it to parents or the administrator of they site they are visiting.
They should be encouraged to never respond to such threats or harassing messages as this can often make situations far worse.
- Ensure that your children can only access the internet from locations you can monitor.
In other words, kids should only be allowed to access the Internet on computers that are in locations such as the family room rather than in their bedrooms.
MONITOR YOUR CHILD’S ONLINE ACTIVITY
Parents whose children have a MySpace account should regularly monitor their child’s activity in order to ensure that these interactions are not potentially harmful, as they were in the case of Megan Meier who committed suicide.
As a parent you should be particularly aware of when your kids may be interacting with older people who may engage in conversations which may not be appropriate.
You should also consider the possibility that not everyone is honest when they are online – just because someone says they are 16 doesn’t make it so – they could be a 50 year old man for all you know.
Predators are known to frequent all manner of chat rooms and social sites across the internet and you should be aware that they are very good at befriending children by pretending to be of a similar age.
FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH THE SITES YOUR CHILDREN VISIT
If your child uses MySpace, or any other internet community, then it would be wise to visit those sites yourself in order to get an idea of how they operate.
By doing this you will be able to form a good idea of what types of interactions your kids may be having, as well as the safeguards and other precautions that are in place to help protect your loved ones.