I’ve been corresponding via email with several of my relatives for many years. Two of my young cousins recently asked me to register for MySpace so that they could share messages, pictures and music with me. I did, and allowed them to install a template and some widgets for me, so that they would feel at home there. I gave may age when registering, and in the “Who I’d like to meet” section I stated that I was "old folk" there to communicate with young family members. Within moments of having my profile set up I received two invitations to review pornographic pictures. The next day I got a very suggestive “I’d like to meet you” private message. Apparently this type of message is allowed to adults who register with MySpace. Well, fine. I’m an adult and I know what a delete button is for. I also reported the abuses.
What about teens who register for MySpace? If they register with their proper age, their messaging should filter these things out. Does it work every time? I don’t know. Do all kids insert their real birthday. No, they don’t. It’s a fact that kids of all ages are vulnerable when they’re online, moreso perhaps at MySpace because predators and pedophiles know that children gather there and can be targeted. You’ve seen or heard news stories about terrible things that have happened. No one from MySpace is going to come to your door and verify your age when you register. Your age is what you say it is, even if you’re a thirty-something registered sex offender or porn peddler registering as a thirteen-year-old. Or a precocious twelve-year-old who wants the boys to think she's older. Even when kids sense something might be amiss, they don’t always have the maturity to know what to do. The very best kids sometimes take unacceptable risks. That’s the nature of kids.
What can you as a parent do? Are you supposed to look over your child’s shoulder constantly when they’re online? That might not be a practical solution for you, and might cause even the most communicative kids to close down because they feel distrusted. Here are some things you can do to help keep your kids safe online.
1. Talk to your children. Make sure that they know that there are bad people out there who may use the internet to harm them. Let them know you will be monitoring their computer use, not because you don’t trust them, but because you want to keep them safe.
2. Put your computer in the family room or other area where it will be natural for you to interact with your child from time to time. If you must put a computer in a child’s room, have a “no closed doors” rule for computer usage. Let your child know that you’ll be dropping in from time to share their online experiences.
3. Install monitoring software on any computer your child uses. SpectorPro offers monitoring software that was created with your needs in mind. It allows you to monitor every aspect of your child's activity from MySpace login
to sign-off. Here’s a list of just some of the capabilities you’ll have:
View MysSpace Screen Snapshots
View Account Profiles
View MySpace messages, instant messages and chats
View blog entries
View Friends list
View pictures posted.
Other features make this a complete package for monitoring your child’s MySpace experiences. I hope you’ll check it out. SpectorPro sponsors this post, but the genuine concern is my own.
Labels: children, computers, MySpace, payperpost, software