Some children are going to be more receptive about your desires to protect them than are others. Children may not fully understand that there is danger in giving someone your full name, for example or that meeting someone that you only know through online chatting is unsafe. Predators are becoming more skilled at identifying and luring children into their traps. You will most likely be faced with some resistance form your child as you set rules about Internet and MySpace use. After all, one of the appeals of MySpace if that you are free to express yourself. Nevertheless, your child’s welfare should come before any activity (whether it is online or not) and even if your child does not agree you are the parent and need to be determined to do all that you can to protect the identities of your children.
Inform them of the dangers of disclosing too much information
As you start talking to your child about keeping their identity safe when using MySpace, make sure that you cover the basics. Start at the beginning and make sure that your child understands concepts of identity theft and that if you make the wrong information available anyone who wants to can take advantage of you. Explain that people who post information are not always truthful and many times dangerous people have practiced and are very good at tricking people. The rule to never talk to strangers now has a new face. There will be strange people who will try to chat with you. Tell your children that however innocent conversations with strangers may be at first; before they know it a predator could have acquired information about them or worse, convinced them to meet. The Internet is a great resource for entertainment and valuable information, there is no need to cause your children to be afraid of being online. Rather teach them to be smart about their actions so that they can stay safe.
Set clear rules about what sites can be visited and what types of things can be posted on those sites
Children need boundaries to stay safe. Make sure that your children know what is and is not acceptable when it comes to posting information online. Get detailed if you have to. Explain why you restrict certain information form being listed. If needed, show how even a last name can give away a lot of valuable information about you. Children generally have a very trusting nature and are slow to think that someone would try to intentionally take advantage of them. Use whatever methods that you think are appropriate to educate your children without making them paranoid that bad people are always going to be out to get them.
Be honest about why you will be checking up on them
You don’t need to feel like you are spying on your children to be a good parent. Explain to your child that the reason why you want to check their MySpace page is not to pry into their personal life, but to make sure that there are no dangers in the content there. Sometimes the more mature eye of a parent can find dangers that a child would not be suspicious of. Developing that mutual trust that you are only looking out for the safety of your child and that your child knows that you respect their privacy is vitally important.
Let your kids know about any filtering or monitoring software that you may use
41% of teens believe that their parents are checking what they do online. Over 50% of teens know that there is some kind of filtering software on their computer that restricts the websites a child can visit.