Upon reading a recent blurb about a new on-line safety guide posted
on myspace.com I became excited that some finally precautions were
being taken in order to protect teen and tween users.
However, after perusing the tips I left feeling more than a little bit deflated. The tips listed on www.myspace.com/safetytips are slightly helpful and the bare minimum I feel that MySpace should be doing in order to protect their young users.
It is obvious when logging onto www.myspace.com that the site caters to our teens. Flashy ads for new movies and television shows as well as exclusive music clips the site is advertising to the trends setting teens of America. With this type of "cool," kids are naturally drawn to the site and it is still a mystery at how well it is monitored. In the parent safety tips it states:
"MySpace members must be 14 years of age or older. We take extra precautions to protect our younger members and we are not able to do so if they do not identify themselves as such. MySpace will delete users whom we find to be younger than 14, or those misrepresenting their age."
My question to MySpace is who is monitoring the space? I know from my 13-year-old daughter that many of her under 14-year-old friends have their own pages. If they are logging on, whom else is? If Myspace is promoting these principles they should be backing us parents up with strong monitoring efforts.
Another safety tips that made me think twice was:
" People aren't always who they say they are. Ask your children to be careful about adding strangers to their friends list. It's fun to connect with new MySpace friends from all over the world, but members should be cautious when communicating with people they don't know. They should talk to you if they want to meet an online friend in person, and if you think it's safe, any meeting should take place in public and with friends or a trusted adult present."
Would any parent allow their child to meet up with a stranger under different circumstances, I don't think so. Even if a trusted adult is around the message from MySpace to young users should be not to meet up with strangers. Although I understand MySpace is trying to set up a community I feel that community should stay virtual for minor users.
MySpace also says that if either a parent or child notices inappropriate use they should contact the MySpace authorities. Although this seems comforting, there is no contact information available. If MySpace was serious about out reaching to parents their information should be readily available. MySpace seems to be putting in a good effort but falling short of providing quality safety information for parents.
We parents absolutely need to monitor our children's spaces online. Personal home pages are not private diaries - this is information they are posting for everyone to see! However if this is MySpace's attempt at providing parents with safety information more criticism is bond to follow. MySpace must enforce stricter regulation, but until then parents must be on a greater level of alert about where their children are placing their personal information and who they are "friending." If your child wouldn't friend a stranger on the street, why should they be doing it virtually?
Clearly, I find this issue fraught with parenting perils!
Image from: The Cancer Blog