Monday, September 25, 2006

Opening the Gates

As much as parents would like to keep the gates locked and their children safely inside, that will keep their children safe. There comes a time when we have to let them go out on their own. That is not to say that we should merely open the gates and push them out to fend for themselves. It is parents responsibility to provide the necessary safety training.

Safety applies to the Internet as well as crossing the street and not taking candy from strangers. It is important to teach them about the potential dangers on the Internet, particularly if they are going to be visiting sites like
MySpace. In the event you have been living under a rock, the least of the issues being "Adware Spreads Through Myspace", where
"groups of websites that entice MySpace users into placing videos onto their profile pages (under the guise of 'free content'), without disclosing a key piece of information that might make them think twice. When someone visits one of these profiles carrying the video, a DRM acquisition box pops up and attempts to install Zango adware."
There is a lot more on Zango. You can find links to many of the articles at Certified Bug. For parents, however, adware is the least of their worries. As reported by Reuters in "MySpace, Seventeen launch parents education plan"
"In September, a 40-year-old Utah man was charged with attempting to lure a 13-year old girl on MySpace to have sex with him in New York.

The girl's father, who installed software that monitored his daughter's online activity, intervened before the rendezvous occurred, according to reports in local Chicago newspapers."

There may be situations where monitoring a child's activities on the internet is appropriate. I don't, however, see monitoring as a solution. It certainly will not help when your child is at a friend's house or at the public library. Talk to your children and explain what can and has happened to others.

Also indicated in the above-referenced "Reuters" article is notice that MySpace is announcing a partnership with Seventeen magazine, the National School Board Association and the National Association of Independent Schools to provide tips to parents on protecting their children online. The tips are on the site now, although the link is buried on the bottom of the page. In addition to SafetyTips for both parents and children, there are links to websites with more information. There is also a PDF with additional infomation from "Seventeen" for parents.

When my grandgirl became a teen, I included with her birthday wishes a collection of links to parental control and child safety websites. Parents, please teach your children safety on the Internet. Talk to them about what can happen -- and has happened -- to other children. When you open that gate, make sure they are prepared to cross the Internet highway alone.

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