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How can my children use myspace safely

How Can My Children Use Myspace Safely?

MySpace is a social networking website offering an interactive, user-submitted network of friends, personal profiles, blogs, groups, photos, music, and videos. MySpace also features an internal search engine and an internal e-mail system. According to Alexa Internet, it is currently the world’s fourth most popular English-language website, the sixth most popular website in any language.

For anyone between the ages of 14 and 18, having a MySpace profile is nearly synonymous with having a cell phone or MP3 player. However, growing concerns over online predators have caused many to question the safety of MySpace.

As a parent, please consider the following guidelines to help your children make safe decisions about using online communities.

•MySpace is a public space. Members shouldn’t post anything they wouldn’t want the world to know. Tell your children they should avoid posting anything that would make it easy for a stranger to find them, such as their local hangouts.

•Choose a fake name that will only be used on MySpace and nowhere else. A real name can be traced to an address and phone number, and frequently used nicknames are also often traceable. Choose a new name that will be exclusive to MySpace.

•Kids shouldn’t lie about how old they are. 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.

•Remind them not to post anything that could embarrass them later or expose them to danger. Although MySpace is public, teens sometimes think that adults can’t see what they post. Tell them that they shouldn’t post photos or info they wouldn’t want adults to see.

•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.

•Instruct your child not to share clues to his or her location. It is easier than imagined for a predator with a picture to sit outside a school and watch the children come and go, scanning the crowd for a particular face.

•If a MySpace profile or blog contains references by name to schools, malls, or movie theaters when your teen spends time, a fake name will be a mere inconvenience to a determined predator. Teach children how to post or blog about experiences without revealing which school, mall or theater she or he is posting about.

Other options are to refrain from posting a profile picture and to keep the MySpace profile private. However, these suggestions may not go over well with teens. Profiles without pictures may be seen as sub par, while “private profiles” – accessible by invitation only – are mandatory for children under 16, which can make the feature undesirable to older teens. Some MySpace members choose to fill out “the survey,” which asks provocative questions of the member regarding experience with sex and drugs. Many parents would likely agree this information does not belong in a public profile.

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