Friday, April 21, 2006

My Space causing parents worry. is a very cool tool for you to post and get involved. A MySpace profile is almost as powerful as a blog because you can create a community who knows and cares what you are thinking about. The problem with MySpace is that your child can post anything and everything.

I have been pretty excited about MySpace for a while. One afternoon, I was at a friend of mine's home and was showing him my profile. He decided to search for anyone in his family that he might know who was using MySpace. I suggested he search first for his last name. We were completely surprised to see that the second picture staring back at him was his 12 year old daughter. She had posted many pictures of herself. She had also posted her school information, address and phone number. She was recognizable, easily located, and reachable. Jeff was frightened and amazed.
MySpace Terms page states that to have a profile one must be at least 14 years old. this page also has a large recommendation of items not to post.

My preferred way of searching for your child's MySpace profile is as follows:
1. Ask your child to show you their my space account
2 Ask your child for all of their email and blog accounts.
Most children will give them to you if they have them. However, if your child acts somewhat secretive about the whole thing get them to at least give you their email addresses. If they are using computers everyday they probably do not have just one.
Next goto and click the toggle button search MySpace, but leave it blank. You will get the MySpace search page. In the find friend dialog put in their email address one at a time and click the search button.

If you want to find where else they have been posting you can try googling their email addresses. Probably the fastest way to do this is to put OR OR
into the google search bar and Click search. If nothing comes up in the web search, switch the view to the groups search. One of the email addresses that I use for work I use only for posting to newsgroups to get information and to help others. I tried googling myself and came up with no web hits, but about 2000 hits in the newsgroups.
Currently, there is no centralized location that has all of the information about where your child might be on the internet, except your child.
Keeping your child safe on the internet requires just a couple of common sense rules.
1. Educate yourself on how to do things on the web. Get your children to teach you! Sure you know how to use a computer, but not the way they do. Tell them you want to start a blog and get them to help. Tell them you are interested in creating a MySpace account and don't know how to do it.
2. Remove the internet connections from your children's bedrooms. Keep the internet public.
3. Be involved in what your children do. Be interested.
4. Teach your children information not to post online.
Avoid posting any personally identifiable information (such as social security number, credit card number, name, address, telephone number, driver's license number, birth date, passwords, etc.) online. This information can easily be used for illegal or harmful purposes.

Children should not post images of themselves, school records, or any other identifying information because it could be used in a harmful manner.

5. Check your children's activity on the computer.
6. Instruct your child to never meet someone offline and if they insist that they want to meet someone offline, that they bring you along. I think it is still a bad idea to meet offline for children even if the parents are in attendance, but... that is for you to decide.

The internet is a great place, but there are dangers. Use common sense and you and your children will be safe.


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