Social networks, blogs, and photo sharing are the things teenagers do on my space.com. Most people find these harmless; the Internet is full of these types of sights. Parents need to beware of the dangers involved with social networking. Social networking sites have become more and more mainstream for our young people.
Did you know that sixty-four percent of online teens say that most of the things they do online are things that they would not want their parents to know about? Have you ever asked yourself, “What does my teen do with all these new gadgets?” This question should to be investigated because it can become overwhelming trying to keep up with all of the new advances made in technology. If you are aware of the risks facing young teens, you will want to take some steps to help protect them from Internet predators and other questionable activities that occur on myspace.com.
First, limit your teen’s time spent online – be sure to put computers in a common area of your house (not in your teen’s bedroom). Learn about the digital devices that your teen has access to and visit their web sites or personal blogs. If your teenager gives you a hard time or acts evasive then they are probably doing something on the site that you would not approve of. Talk to your teen about your concerns and what kind of social network content is appropriate for them. Outline some sites and review them with your teen as far as what is acceptable.
Here are some tips to help you monitor what your teen is doing on myspace.com:
- Limit your teen’s time spent online
- Be clear and consistent about what is off limits. Be specific on the web sites, chat rooms, games, and blogs that are off limits
- Learn about the digital devices that your teen has access to
- Visit your teen’s web sites and personal blogs – review their profile, pictures, video, and music uploads
- Be sure that you discuss with your teen how you feel about illicit drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Help them understand that many things that are offered to them via the Internet may harmful, illegal, and dangerous
- Make sure they let you know if they receive any personal messages that encourage them to engage in unacceptable behaviors
If you suspect your child is in danger, go the extra mile – purchase some technology that enables you to track the exact web pages, blogs, and message boards that your teen visits. Many of these products have filtering devices that will prevent your teen from viewing inappropriate content. Most computers allow you to be the administrator, which gives your teen limited access. These are the best ways to protect your teenager from predators on the Internet.
The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA). August 2006.
- ABC News “What is Teens Hiding on myspace.com. May 18, 2006.
- Pew Internet & American Life Project. Protecting Teens Online. March 17, 2005.
- Kaiser Family Foundation, key facts: Parents and Media, Summer 2003