Sadly, our children are faced with many dangers that simply did not exist when we were younger. The Internet is a wonderful tool that adds convenience, information and recreation for many people, however, with the good there is an amount of bad. Personal identity theft, inappropriate Internet conversations and even meeting someone that you only know through online interactions are serious dangers that our children face more regularly than we may realize. As a parent it is your responsibility to take action to protect your children from the potential predators that could get valuable personal information about your child through MySpace.
Be aware of what your child has posted on their MySpace page
MySpace pages are meant to be a reflection of the individual to whom the page belongs. As a result, many teens post pictures of themselves, pictures of their friends, information about the people in the pictures, details about school events, and all kinds of personal information that would be better kept confidential. Make sure that you and your child have spoken about what can and cannot be posted on her MySpace page. Know how to access your child’s MySpace account so that you are aware of what is posted there and of any comments from others that may cause reason for concern. Your children need to know that you are going to follow up. Children are more likely to abide by parental rules if they know that the parent is going to check up on them. Be honest with your child and let him know that you are only making sure that he stays safe and not trying to pry into personal matters.
Know what your child’s friends have on their pages
Sometimes it is what is on a friend’s MySpace page that can be dangerous to your child. Friends and social interactions are a big factor in why young people start a MySpace page to begin with. Another person who is close to your child can easily post personal information about them. A friend to your child may include a picture that your child is in with a full name and school that they attend. A motivated predator needs little more than this kind of information to do something inappropriate.
Talk to your child about Internet safety
Your child needs to know about the dangers of disclosing too much personal information online. Just as you would warn your child about smoking or drinking, they need to know that irresponsibility online can cause them harm.
Set clear rules and expectations about Internet use
Make your expectations regarding Internet use painfully clear. This issue is not one to be lax about. Research suggests that parents are actually taking action by setting many rules for Internet use. In fact, Internet use has been found to be more closely regulated by parents than any other type of media. Have the best interest of your child in mind and commit yourself to doing what it takes to keep them safe.
Technical safety measures
There are technical safety measures available if you feel like that would be a good option for your family. In a 2006 study, researchers found that 53% of parents who have children who spend time on the Internet also have filtering software that keeps their kids from visiting certain websites. Another 45% of parents say that they have monitoring software that keeps them aware of what their kids are doing online. Most teens say that they are aware of the fact that these technical safety measures will not allow them to view certain things online or that their actions online are being monitored.