My Oh! MySpace

While it’s important to talk to your children about online safety, it’s not enough. Limiting your kids online activities – i.e., making rules about what sites they can and can’t visit, what chats they can and can’t enter, and what profiles they can or cannot place on the Web, are all crucial to their safety.

In fact, the ideal is to keep your child off social networking sites altogether, or to let them peruse and chat but forbid a profile. It’s just too scary for your children.

Just this last spring MySpace executives admitted that many thousands of predators known to law enforcement were lurking on the social networking site. MySpace turned over 7000 names to the attorney general of one state. It also closed their accounts and took down their fraudulent profiles.

That doesn’t minimize the danger to your children, however. Three percent of the profiles on MySpace are for children under the age of 10. What are these parents thinking? Clearly they’re not limiting their kids’ online activities as they should be.

Again last month MySpace’s security team deleted another 8000 profiles from its database because the owners had misrepresented their ages as younger than they were. Now parents are able to limit their children’s activities and monitor it as well through software provided by the site that lets the parents know the children are registered there, and what their user name is, their stated age and the location they have listed.

There are some basic ways for parents to limit and monitor their children’s activities on the Internet. Besides talking to them a lot about the dangers of online chat room and social network sites, they can demand and keep handy their children’s screen names and accounts.

They can also buy software that they can install on the computer to not only see where they go on the Web but see what they post there. They can literally monitor each keystroke and block sites they deem inappropriate for their children.

One thing that it’s very important for parents to keep in mind is that even with these stringent limitations and oversight they must stay continually vigilant. New sites pop up every minute of every day, along with new ways to get past the old safeguards.

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