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August 23, 2005

Kids, blogs and internet safety

From MSNBC...

Marcy's 13-year-old daughter has a knack for switching computer screens or shutting the laptop when mom walks in the room. Like in many families, the two often argue about whether mom has the right to see what her daughter is doing online. The conversation is never really resolved.

But a few months ago, Marcy's need to keep up with her daughter's Internet travels took on a new urgency when she found an unfinished message on the screen urging a friend to check out her daughter's picture on a special Web page her daughter had set up.

With that, Marcy made a discovery thousands of parents around the country are making -- teenagers are among the most active Internet bloggers, and many are posting pictures, names, addresses, schools, even phone numbers, almost always without their parent's knowledge.

"It blew me away," said Marcy, who requested her full name not be used. "And I just lost it. I sat my daughter down and said, 'Do you realize how inappropriate and how dangerous this is? Here's your face. Here's the town you come from. Do you realize how many sick people are out there?' "

While the story focuses mostly on MySpaces.com, that is just the tip of the iceberg. Kids have a tendency to assume more security, power and control than they actually have. About ten, eleven or so, they want to start doing some grown up things, and on the internet there's really not a lot to prevent them from doing so.

What's even worse than what was mentioned in the article is the use of free photo archiving sites. apparently quite a few teenagers are using them to store digital photos for their friends to see, and a number of them are poses one would have to wonder if their parents know about. Some would definitely be considered child porn.

Using a filter on your kids computers that will block objectionable sites is a start, but knowing whether they have access elsewhere to computers is also needed, as well as knowing who your kids' friends are.

Hat tip: Riehl World View

Posted by Danny Carlton at August 23, 2005 09:21 AM

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