Social networking has become one of the most popular ways for teens, college students, and even parents to find old and new friends. And while most that use social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace are innocent and obey the rules of engagement, there are some users that abuse the system and are a danger to your kids. If you have a child or teen that has a profile on MySpace you may be faced with a new challenge these days; hiding friends. You can actually find places on the web that provide you with steps for hiding friends on MySpace. And while this may seem innocent, it can lead them down a dangerous road.
Let’s face it; teenagers aren’t always honest with what they’re doing or who they’re spending time with. It’s much harder to tell who they’re talking to, and who they’re finding and adding to their friend list when it’s online. You want you teen to have some privacy after all, so how can you find out if your teen is hiding friends they shouldn’t be on their MySpace page? Here are some steps they might take to hide friends on MySpace:
1. Changing the age of their friends. We would be naÃ¯ve in thinking that our teens won’t come across other friends that you don’t know about. One of the ways they can hide their friends they think you wouldn’t approve of is by changing their age. That’s generally the first thing parents look for. They want to make sure that their child is talking with kids their own age (or around their own age). When it comes to social networking however, without privacy settings set up your teen can talk with anyone they choose; whether they’re thirteen or thirty. Most teens know that a parent won’t approve of them having an unknown thirty year old friend so they’ll change the age and make it look like it’s someone they go to school with.
2. Using unknown privacy settings like changing a password. When you open an account with social networking sites you can always make profiles private if you want them to be private. You can make it so that no one else can see the friends you have unless they have your password to get in to your account. Changing a password so that a parent cannot get into their account would be a big green light that something’s going on that they don’t want you to know about.
3. Using html codes to hide friends. And lastly, there are web sites and Google searches that are designed to help you make your profile private, and make your friends list private. Unfortunately that means that teens have access to html codes that they can use to keep their friends private. This can be a problem for a parent who’s trying to keep track of their teens account.
What can you do as a parent to keep them safe online?
1. Be honest with them from the beginning. Set up the account and let them know that you will be checking their account every so often to make sure everything is how it should be.
2. Talk with them about the dangers of social networking sites. You need to let them know that not everyone is out there to find a new friend. There are predators online waiting for unsuspecting teenagers to find them.
3. Don’t ever let them add friends that they haven’t met in person or know from school. That means if someone tries to add them as a friend, teach them to delete it until you’ve checked it out.
4. Set up privacy settings. You can set up the account so that only friends can see their pictures and messages. This keeps them safe from outside, unknown predators.
5. Use monitoring software if you think it’s getting out of hand.
So there you have a few steps on how a teen might try and hide friends from you. There’s no way of knowing for sure if your child is hiding friends from you, so try to keep the lines of communication open and be honest with them.