Kids and MySpace
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MySpace Isn't A Place for Young Kids
You may not have heard about the "secret" society called MySpace. Almost everyone in school has a MySpace page that lists everything about themselves and chances are your child has been encouraged to create one. T'weens are told how to bypass the rules so they can get a page even though they aren't old enough. They are a fun way to share information about yourself and post pictures but they can be dangerous for kids, including teens.
MySpace allows you or your child to create a place for you to share what you are thinking with the world and photos. It is very popular with kids and most kids have a page.
All that is required to get a MySpace page is an email address to sign up. You also need to certify that you are at least 14 years of age. Most kids just say that they are 14 if they aren't. MySpace does not want children under the age of 14 and if they find out they are they will discontinue the service. MySpace tries to police it but they have no way of knowing if their member is actually 14. If you discover that your child has one, you can ask to have your child's MySpace page removed.
Privacy and MySpace
Most kids make their MySpace page private where only friends they designate are allowed to see their page. This is safer than allowing it to be private but it also makes it difficult for parents to keep track of what they are posting and most kids don't want their parents to see what they are posting.
What Is Posted On MySpace
MySpace makes it easy to post all about you. The first thing you do is post a profile with your name, town, interests, school, sexual orientation, books and movies you like, who your heroes are and much more. A popular topic is to post questionaires on the MySpace page so they can share very specific information about themselves. Your child can easily put everything about them online.
The Dangers of MySpace
Your child can easily post enough information about themselves to be abducted. An online predator looking at your child's page has enough information to arrive at your door or the playground that your child frequents. You must teach your child the dangers of posting too much information and you must follow up to make sure they aren't posting too much information.
Another problem is that children tend to post things that should never be put in print. They say things like they want to burn down the school or they want to kill so-and-so with not literally meaning it but threats like that could be taken seriously.
MySpace is for kids over 14 years of age. There is sexually explicit information on the site posted by other users and the profile questions that users create is geared towards adults.
How To Protect Your Child
The main safety rule is that they must not post too much identifying information especially their last name. You should not trust your child to post too much information though even if you speak to them daily about it because children always think that it will never happen to them and they aren't in danger. Besides, their friends tell them that it is safe and often children think their friends are more Internet savvy than you. If your child wants to have a MySpace page you need to have access to it. When you explain to them that there are very real dangers, you can make the rule that if they want to use the computer, they will have to share the access information. If you feel that you can't do this, you can install monitoring software to see what they are seeing without them knowing it. You can also install filtering software that will stop them from visiting the site.
MySpace Safety Tips
MySpace provides Safety Tips and Tips for Parents that you should read.
Tom from MySpace is Everyone's Friend
If your child already has a MySpace page and you visit it for the first time, do not be alarmed at their 29 year old friend named Tom, as he is the creator of MySpace and appears as a friend to everyone.