Are you scared that your child may be exploited online through MySpace? You are not alone; as parents all over the world were shocked as to how many reported child sexual predators were taken off MySpace last in July of 2007. If you were wondering how many these possible offenders were, the number was at 29,000. That was just for those offenders who used their real names. There might be more others, who have been using pseudonyms. Two years down the road, the sex offenders have gone more intelligent and more cunning in their acts.
Here are some guides on how you and your child can learn to have a safe time on MySpace.
- Install a website filtering program. Although teens and older children maybe tech savvy enough to get around such things, it's still best to install them just in case. Here are just a some of them:
- PC Tattletale (http://www.pctattletale.com/): a keylogger program that allows you to check what your child has been posting. These can even include account passwords.
- I Am Big Brother (http://www.iambigbrother.com): this is another keylogger tool that literally records everything your child has done on the computer, whether on or offline. You can even view it from another computer-while you're at work for example.
- K9 Web Protection (http://www1.k9webprotection.com/): this is a free filtering program that also allows you to schedule how long your child should be online.
- Set rules but don't be too restrictive. Telling the kids that the computer is off limits will just make them more curious and eventually try it outside the house where there's no parental control. So allow them to use the computer and get online, but with set rules.
- Place the computer in area where everyone can you view it easily. Children (and even adults) will find it hard to do anything illegal when they know that they can be seen by everyone.
- Talk to your kids about Internet privacy. Real names, ages, house addresses, telephone numbers, and anything personal should not be posted online as "bad people" will easily find these and can stalk children in real life.
- When you see kids suddenly minimizing their windows when people come near then computer, they're usually hiding something. Check it out!
- Know your child's MySpace page. This is to check not only how he's behaving online, but also allows you to check his friends' activities as well.
- Explain to them that it is your responsibility as a parent to monitor their online activity as well. This is to ensure their safety in the wild world of the web.
- If you suspect that your child will be going out to see a MySpace friend in a physical meeting, insist that you come along just in case. If it was an adult who contacted your child, disallow the meet up totally.
The important thing here is to be smart when using social networking page. Online predators tend to pose as kids trying to make friends with your kids. One rule of thumb is to never make online friends with people who are not your friends in real life in the first place.