Unfortunately, this is one of those moments that parents dread. Your kids are probably going to find a way to use MySpace, so you may be better off having them do so at home under your supervision. The good news is that there are some safe guards in place you can use to help protect your kids. First, though, you need to understand why MySpace is a danger for your children.
The Ugly Truth
- Kids connect with people they shouldn't.
MySpace is a social networking site. It's designed to connect people. Unfortunately, MySpace is also a slice of the real world. That means that, along with all of the friendly people, there are plenty of not-so-nice kids and adults looking to cause your child harm.
- Kids see things they shouldn't.
MySpace is open to all ages and personalities. The site has got quite a bit of highly suggestive and nearing-on-the-pornographic content. It's easy to stumble upon something you'll wish you hadn't.
- Kids post things they shouldn't.
For some reason, kids (and a lot of adults) think that their online profiles are private. They post their own suggestive pictures and stories, they share far too much personal information, and they make up vicious lies about each other to get revenge. Some kids will even share their full name, address and phone number freely with others.As more and more people use the Internet to perform background searches, everyone should put more thought into what they say and do online. There are plenty of stories of people losing their jobs, getting expelled, and not getting into college based on information they posted on the Internet.
What Parents Can Do
- Set boundaries.
Children under the age of 14 are not allowed to register, so that should be a non-negotiable point. Once they turn 14, it's up to the parents to create the rules. If they are allowed to register, consider setting aside a time of day for spending on MySpace. Make sure that you are present during this time to keep an eye on your child's activities.
- Create your own MySpace profile and add your children as friends.
First of all, it's important for you to learn how the site works, what type of content is available, and how to navigate the system. It will help you understand what your children are doing and gain a better sense of how to keep them safe.
- Talk with your kids about Internet safety and explain why you're concerned.
Have them agree to a set of guidelines and let them know that their Internet privileges are at stake. Also, make sure that they understand that you will be watching their activities.
- Follow through.
It is important that you follow through on your own commitments to your children. If you say you'll be monitoring their activities, make sure you do so regularly. Not only does it help you keep them safe, but it lets them know how serious you are.