Parents Beware of MySpace

MySpace is a website designed to provide people with a place on the web for them to express themselves. They can basically design their space to showcase their personalities and interests at no cost to sign up. The main idea of MySpace is to place things onto your section of the website which you wish to share with other people. Pictures, blogs and even videos can all be added and shared with other users, and the content of those three things can be basically anything.
With all ages signing up every day, the content generally ranges from silly, innocent comedy videos to more ‘adult’ content. So how can parents make sure that young teens aren’t being exposed to anything that they shouldn’t be?

�Signing up
Unfortunately the danger starts as soon as you sign up to this website. As with all other similar websites, any time you place any personal information onto it, it then becomes available to anybody who views your profile. This can be dangerous if you place your actual address, telephone number and other contact details. Unfortunately young teens are sometimes na�¯ve to the dangers which lurk online and they often place their contact details for all to see. Also, it is easy to lie about your age, so if a young teen said that they were over eighteen, they could potentially gain access to adult content within the site.

�Chat Rooms
All chat rooms are potentially dangerous whether they are divided into aged related rooms or not. As mentioned earlier, it is extremely easy to lie about your age online and so even with an age restricted website, potential pedophiles could gain access to a teen room. The same with young teens and gaining access to adult rooms; it is all too easy to do. The lack of security is appalling and there are has been some cases of children being sexually assaulted through people they have met on MySpace as well as other similar websites.

�Easy Information
The blogs are another way in which young teens can unwittingly bring danger upon themselves. A blog is something which allows people to write their thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams as well as what is going on in their life. It is similar to a diary only it is seen by millions of other people. With over 40 million people using MySpace, there are unfortunately going to be quite a few vulnerable, young teens that are going through a hard time. Any potential pedophile could use whatever the teen writes in their blog to draw them in and make them feel safe. This is mainly called child grooming and the pedophile will try and create a friendship with the child based on their vulnerability.

�Lack of Security
There is an obvious lack of security with MySpace and although the founders say that they are trying to make the site safer, evidence is yet to be seen. Chat rooms are easily accessible, absolutely anybody can access the site and also the videos are not monitored at all. It is impossible for MySpace to monitor every single one of its users and therefore it cannot promise a safe environment. As well as pedophiles there is also the risk of online bullying. While it doesn’t always happen, sometimes young teens become the victim of online bullying where people will post nasty messages, and even harass them through e-mail. Although most of the users may only be interested in meeting new people, they have no idea of how they may end up being exploited on the site.

The best way to keep your child safe online is to monitor their use of the site. If you just don’t want them to use it at all, put a block on the site. Until MySpace makes their site a safer place to be, young teens will always be at risk from using their services. It is important to talk to your teen to make sure that they realize the dangers of giving out their personal details. Another way to keep your teen safe is to monitor their behavior after they have been online. Are they secretive? Are they depressed? Not enough parents monitor the changes in their children which can be a clear warning sign that their Internet use is not all it seems to be.

Overall we are not able to completely shelter our children, however by knowing the dangers we can educate them to make better choices. Monitoring them is the best way you can keep them safe and websites like My Space should be taking more measures to provide a safer web environment.

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