Friday, January 9, 2009

The Dangers of My Space

I am a parent of two kids who have accounts in Myspace and wondered how many of you wonder just how safe is it. You may be surprised to learn that when you set up your Myspace page, unless you update some account and security settings on everything from friends, guests, pictures and comments, people have the ability to copy your information off your Myspace page and share it with anyone they want or even post it to the internet.

Did you know that Myspace has approximately 200 million subscribers? How many of those people do you think are out there will pure intentions just to use the site as a networking site? How many of those people are looking to meet someone, say for dating or other reasons like sexual predators.

God warns us to guard our hearts and minds from things that are unpure. There is a study that shows that most teens are even aware of the security settings that need to be set up to prevent invitations to in appropriate sites. Most of the time as well Myspace solicts ads for companies or the entertainment industry that show things that most parents would never allow their children to see.

It was amazing for me to see that my daughter, Caitlyn's goal was to see just how many Myspace friends she could get. At one point when I reviewed her friends lists, she had more than 200+ friends. Now I know my daughters school friends and people she really calls friends and she doesn't have that many friends. When I questioned her, she told me that a lot of them are friends of her other friends. When I viewed her profile, I was concerned at the amount of personal information she gave. She not only provided a picture, but listed her name, her hometown and state, the school she went to, who her friends are, and what activities and interests are.

Now if I wanted to find her, it wouldn't be that hard to do, thanks to all her information she provided for me. For about $ 25.00 I could find her real address and possible phone number through a number of sites on the internet. I found that some of her friends even listed their real cell phone numbers for people to call both in things called Bulletins, which can be seen by everyone on her Myspace, but in her comments and email as well. Those can be seen by anyone who can access her page. What are these kids thinking?

In this day in age, where people are kidnapped daily, sexual predators who seeming want to be their best girlfriend and lie about their age, or prey upon the problems our teens are posting back and forth to their friends on their Myspace page. I see it has advantages but it lacks the security features most parents aren't aware of that should be a default setting. Our teens today are simply too trusting and most have parents that don't have the time to listen to our kids so they have to turn to whomever will listen to them. Do we really want that?

Any teen can lie about their date of birth so that parents aren't notified about signing up for a Myspace page. I know people who have Myspace accounts that their parents don't know about, because they aren't allowed to have them. Good for those parents!!

I personally have heard of one of my daughters who had her Myspace page hacked into and her password changed without her permission. Now if Myspace creators can't guarantee that safety, it makes me wonder what else the average non computer friendly parent isn't aware of.

For now, I have altered the settings on my daughters Myspace page to prevent things from being shared, copied, and only invitations requests of people we know can be sent and have removed all personal information from her site except for her state and first name. As a parent I feel it's my right until she turns 18 and can make decisions for herself, but until then, God has made it my responsibility to monitor and watch what she does. I can only pray for the day when Myspace goes away.

Whatever happened to the days when you would call your friends on the phone or stop by their house to visit?

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