MySpace.com might be the largest website in the history of the internet. Several times I was introduced to MySpace.com by young adults I know. So, I joined thinking it would be a great way to keep track of these friends and to network with people in town. To my surprise, I have met people all over the country, just as I have in the blogging world. If you have seen some of the profiles, you will see a variety of things–some being pretty offensive. So, do parents really know what their kids are doing? Is it safe for kids?
Here is what an ACLU guy says (not my favorite source, but listen). The context of this quote is in response to a student who was removed from his school for putting on a parody site on myspace.com of the school’s principal. The full article is found in Wired Magazines site here: Scenes From the MySpace Backlash.
…"For them to punish the student by interfering with his schooling is really beyond the pale," says Pennsylvania ACLU legal director Vic Walczak. "At some point school districts need to wake up and understand that there are limits to their authority to punish students for out of school speech.… The principal can’t play parent when the student is doing something at home."
Indeed. Parent’s need to be aware and know what their kids are up to. Unlike what is suggested in Wired Magazines article, A MySpace Cheat Sheet for Parents, I think it is absolutely imperative that you know what your kids are putting out there on the internet. Is your child’s home address on the site and phone number? Is your child posing as an adult? Good parenting would mean that you would hopefully have the relationship with your teen to talk over the dangers of putting personal information on a public website. Kid’s may have savvy, but they are kids and sometimes lack judgment. That is where us parents need to kick in.
Part of the warning here is not so much what your kids are seeing from others, but what they actually are putting on their sites. Employers can look up this information, and they can get into trouble with school authorities if limits are pushed. And, like I mentioned, personal information should not be put on the site of a minor for sure, but carefully for any of us.
Hey, how about setting up your own site mom or dad? That way, you can get to know your kids and their friends. Become savvy in the things your kids are interested in and give them freedom as you see them use better judgment. By the way, my daughter, who is 12, asked for a website, but I said no. But, I have found a way (being a geek and having .mac with Apples iLife ’06) to let her have a private site for her artwork to show to her friends. So, I am trying to practice what I preach here.
What do you think about MySpace.com? Is it safe for minors? Dangerous? Just a neutral meeting place?