Monitoring Social Sites Like MySpace
Teens love their gadgets and media! Technology provides them with access to their friends, as well as the world. Unfortunately, there can be a downside to all of this: drug dealers and sexual predators have quick and easy access to minors through the use of many of teens' favorite technologies. If you have a teen, then it is likely s/he has information about herself/himself on at least one of these social sites. Not sure? Then ask! It's important that you know what types of media your teen is using, and how s/he is using it. Here's what you need to know about social networking sites:
Social networking sites allow people to talk each other online using a computer around shared interests or causes, like finding people who live nearby or who are the same age. These sites allow teens to design their own personalized page on the Internet, much like an interactive scrapbook, that can include their favorite music clips, their choice of background designs or wallpaper, photos, favorite quotes and any other information about themselves - and anyone else - that they wish to include. Users can also set up blogs (online public journals), a friend network, and message centers. It's very easy to put a lot of information online. Savvy teens can accomplish this in just a few minutes and are sometimes unaware of the risks they may be taking when they do. Some of the most popular social networking sites for teens include MySpace, Facebook, Friendster, and Bebo.
- Adolescence is a time for exploration and experimentation. Social networking sites offer a way for teens to express themselves in creative ways.
- For shy teens or those who don't have many friends, social networking sites can provide an outlet to meet other kids their own age who have similar interests.
- These sites can help parents get to know their teen and how they think about themselves.
- All too often, many teens do not set limits for how much information to share. They put themselves in danger by giving out too much personal information and communicating with strangers online.
- Many of the sites have age requirements, but teens often get around those limits. By doing that, they enter a world that is intended for adults who are 18 or older;
- Social networking sites seem safe to teens because they don't use their real names. When teens feel safe, they can easily fall into a trap of trusting someone who is dangerous and can be tricked into meeting people in person.
- Some teens post inappropriate content such as pictures from a drinking party, postings about taking drugs, real or invented sexual activity, or hurtful gossip about school peers. These kinds of behaviors can have serious consequences like expulsion from school or difficulty later in life if prospective employers or college admission officers review the sites.
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