Saturday, March 25, 2006

Keeping Children Safe Via Internet Blogs

Recently I have read a great deal of blogs and articles concerning the dangers with children and teenagers, who are now becoming more and more of the vast majority of Internet bloggers, and their safety being at risk. And to a degree, I agree with this, especially the fact that we must protect our children until they reach legal adulthood of age to make their own decisions.

Bloggers and blogging has become very popular in the past few years, and it is a great way to release what we think about, write about, and give our views, thoughts and ideas on and about. Teenagers are not really that different from us, as they do have their own thoughts developed from their unique personalities, and within their personal blogs, they have found away to express a great deal of this.

MySpace, a very popular expanding and constantly growing blog spot, has been "under the gun" a great deal as of late in relationship to statements that they are exposing teenagers to pedophiles and predators, leading to problems with trolling and cyberstalking the underage youth group. So with my interest peeked on this, I had to know more and when I researched MySpace and all it had to offer on setting up a blog, (easy to do, easy to navigate, options available) I was not surprised why the younger group choose this particular blog site. And because it is such a popular blog spot, this age group (and keep in mind, adults as well) are navigated to this site, explains why, if you do the math, it is so successful, well known and productive now. Anytime something grows to be so expansive and large, there is going to exist an alarm of problems, yet we need to keep in mind that there are other real problems on many other blog spots, located in many chat rooms, forums, etc., but they are not "under the gun", in a matter of speaking, as they are not as large, or well known as MySpace.

Take this into consideration that the majority of the Internet public does not even know that Yahoo has an online auction, and it is free to list and sell, and if you google it concerning problems, you will find very little on the subject. Now, compare that to eBay, which is now a household word, and if you google it for problems, thousands of sites will appear. Why? Because they are well known and HUGE! That is the price you pay when you grow out of your britches while you count your millions.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand concerning children and teenagers on the Internet. This is not a new problem, but one that thankfully in the past few years, has finally been recognized, explored and addressed to a much larger degree. In reality though, this has been a problem since the Internet became the superhighway, and the younger underage crowd were found in many chat rooms and forums and inappropriate web sites.

Parents I believe, have a great responsibility in protecting their children concerning the Internet if they are going to let their children be available to the computer for long hours. I mean, get real, you would not leave a loaded gun lying around the house would you? If a gun is in the house, it is locked away or hidden or no bullets available due to dangers, yet at the same time, parents still let their older children have bb or pellet guns, and sometimes rifles for the sport of hunting. The point I am trying to express is that as parents and responsible adults, we must take responsibility on any and all dangers concerning our underage children. If you have concerns about them, snoop to see what is going on in their life, if that is what it takes. (yet be ready, if and when you do snoop, as you might find things about you and what they reflect and think on and about parents, both good and bad.) Talk with them on the dangers of the Internet, and point out real things that have happened and can happen to bring your point across. Check their computer time to where they have navigated, and the time they spend at certain places. Keep the computer in a safe room, and allow only certain times and reasons to be on the computer if you are concerned or feel there is a need. Try and get them involved in outside activities or give them a good book to read. Promote and expand their interest with your involvement and enthusiasm, and instill discussions on and about things concerning the Internet. But, do let them blog, yet try to set rules concerning blogging, and explain why giving personal information in blogging is a "no no" and is a safety concern for many reasons. Better yet, if they show an interest on setting up a blog, go over the policies that the blog site in question has implemented, and make sure both of you understand the rules and regulations, policies and guidelines.

For example,
MySpace has gone to great lengths from all I have researched and read to point out that the age limit to become a member of their blog, is 14 years of age. They also have safety tips here and here and other excellent links connected to them concerning safety at Netsmartz and Safeteens to protect your children. It appears to me that MySpace realizes there is a problem, and have gone to great lengths to address the problem.

In closing, my whole point is that we, as parents and adults need to play a vital and important role in making sure our children are safe. It is so easy to blame MySpace for problems that have been happening concerning the younger crowd, and as far as I am concerned, not a fair assessment. MySpace became a large community because much time and effort, good business decisions and much more was involved into what it has become today. Also, with a site this large, they cannot (and should not be expected) to police all the blogs. And unfortunately, many of the young bloggers are also to blame for the problem, by posting certain pictures (for example, their boobs hanging out, or mooning their butt), and saying inappropriate things. By doing so, they are seeking a certain type attention, (that needs to be addressed) and this does and should cause red flags and alarm. Yet, we should keep in mind that the majority of the younger bloggers display common sense, and use MySpace only as an outlet to meet new friends and share ideas and thoughts and become part of a group, as well as many other reasons. So, if blame is going to be placed on this particular subject at hand, lets make sure we have all the information before placing blame. This last link is also a very informative read
Wikipedia Concerning MySpace .



  1. I agree with you Katie. I think a lot of the problems with "safety" on the Internet have a lot to do with what we teach our children.

    (Enter Anecdote and reminiscent music)

    I remember going to my grandparents house when I was very young. Back then, where they lived was relatively quiet. I loved to go for bike rides around the local area, and if I came back, even five minutes late, I heard all kinds of lectures.

    I remember sitting in the living room on Grandma and Grandpa's couch. My grandmother was in her reclyner to the left, and my grandfather to the right. (I've actually seen paintings like this. he he). Anyway, my grandma went on to tell me, "There are strange men out there that will capture you and do scary things to you. Some might even chop you up into little pieces."

    My cousin was there, (she's 12 years older than me), and she interjected, "Grandma!! You're gonna scare her!!" To which my grandmother replied, "Exactly. That's what she needs. The truth."

    That wasn't the only time I had gotten lectures like that. My mom gave me lectures on creepy old men too, and as soon as the Internet became a part of my high school life, I knew that who I was talking to might not be who I thought I was talking to. Also, my family had helped me to foster a sense of self confidence that kept me from seeking solace in some stranger.

    My point is that not only do parents need to monitor what their children are doing on the Internet, but they need to give their children all kinds of foundations: confidence, caution, and Etc. You can't shelter your children forever, but you can give them the proper tools to know how to avoid certain dangers.

    Anyway, thanks for the insights, as always.


  2. Devrie, I try to keep an open mind of what goes on with Cyber Space, and life in general, and you have brought out so many valid points that I wanted to point out as well, and probably will in another blog. One day. Hopefully.

    I also was raised to be cautious of who I was and what I did, and to this day,(having a parent to give me secure thoughts, self confidence, goals and directions) I feel great comfort in and value in this, as I am sure you do, but Sadly, many did not have these experiences that you and I have been a party to, and many still are very good friends of mine, as we all have found away to communicate, no matter the route we take at times. It seems, no matter what, we all face the bumps and bolders in the way of our life, that teaches us, and makes us of who we are. The routes we take, and experinces we live, have a direct influence on how we think in a large degree, which is why I shared this blog.

    While my and your feelings are open minded and so close related, we also have to give thoughts to other opinons that do not understand of why we feel this way, and give them the benifit of the doubt to also expres their feelings and thoughts, per their life experiences. And try to understand, at least in a degree, of where they are coming from, with an open mind. As, from my experince on meeting them, they expect the same of what we all give to each other, in so many ways.

    It seems the more I sometimes write in anger, the more comfortable I feel, as I know so many feel this way in expressing their thoughts, and I am just a party to a well known and loved group. DOES this make sense?

    Devrie, I so appreciate you words and story on this. You always add something more or in relation to what I write. Thank you for this, and please keep in touch.