Wednesday, February 08, 2006
It's ten o'clock. Do you know what your children are blogging?
Parents need to take a closer look at sites like MySpace.com
"A predator's dream come true...a parent's worst nightmare"
It seems like a no-brainer...parents who care about their youngsters should make themselves aware of what their kids are doing online.
Blog sites--like MySpace.com in particular--are coming under the microscope after a spate of sexual assaults on seven 12- to 16-year-old girls by men older than they claimed to be who located them through MySpace.
Culture Clips quotes Middletown, Conn., police Sgt. Bill McKenna: "It's a predator's dream come true, this Web site. Because not only can you see them, but you can see their friends. You can find out where they go to middle school and high school."
Again from Culture Clips: "One of the cases reportedly involved a man who traveled more than 1,000 miles to meet a Connecticut girl with a myspace.com profile. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says his office has received many complaints from parents regarding the ease of accessibility to sexually suggestive material on MySpace. "As a parent, I find it appalling and abhorrent that a Web site would so poorly police its pages," he said. "This Web site is a parent's worst nightmare." [my emphasis.] A response from myspace.com stated that the site is committed to providing a safe environment for users, though it admitted it's difficult to discern whether users tell the truth about their age."
The article also quotes Nancy Willard, director of the Eugene, Ore.,-based Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, "The key thing is that young people appear to be totally oblivious to the fact that everything they post in these sites is public, permanent, accessible from throughout the world and easily transmittable to anybody. [When adults read the sites,] teens argue that you're invading my privacy. That's just the point. It's not private."
The Family Research Council is also urging parents to get involved. Says FRC president Tony Perkins: "Parents should carefully monitor children's use of websites such as MySpace.com. My Space.com advertises itself as a 'place for friends' but is becoming less than friendly after the disappearance of several teenagers who have posted profiles on the site.
"As authorities recognize the growing problem of predators trolling the internet seeking to exploit and victimize children, they must aggressively enforce the laws that protect our children. However, parents should understand that they are the first and sometimes only line of defense between their children and the predators."
The answer? Parents, get a clue. Make sure you know what your teen is doing online. Monitor their myspace or other blogs, even if they claim it "invades their privacy." If it's online...it's NOT private.
NOTE: More interesting reading about "the MySpace generation" here. Be sure to read the comments below the article as well.
Related Tags: Blogging, MySpace, Internet safety