Wednesday, June 21, 2006

This Unanswered Question

My eleven-year-old sister is not allowed to close the door to the family's computer room when she's on the Internet. Her e-mail address is only given to friends and family members, her favorite sites are monitored for inappropriate ads and she's been taught not to click on pop-ups. She has no IM screenname nor an online profile. My parents won't allow for it.

So it baffles me when I hear stories such as this recent one out of Texas: A 14-year-old girl and her mother are suing for $30 million, charging that the site doesn't take enough measures to protect kids from sexual predators. The lawsuit comes after the girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by a 19-year-old man she met on the site and eventually agreed to meet with in person.

One of the attorneys representing the young girl told the American-Statesman, "MySpace is more concerned about making money than protecting children online." Myspace chief security officer defended the site in a statement, saying, "We take aggressive measures to protect our members. Ultimately, Internet safety is a shared responsibility."

But not one article covering this story gives any indication of how the child's mother figured into her online activity, or if she policed it at all.

It's the one question that I had when I first heard this story yesterday. It's the one question I still have, five articles and 24 hours later.

Myspace has been running on full damage control mode in recent months, after being skewered by media coverage of sexual predators who troll the site in order to meet underage kids. The site has had to defend itself against schools that want to block students from using it, and against questions about whether its security measures are secure enough. But questions about parental involvement in online harrassment cases go largely unanswered.

Or have they even been asked?

I'm not the only one wondering "Where are the parents?" Teens in Wichita Fall, Texas seem to feel that parental involvement is only common sense, as do residents of Austin, Texas. Some parents have decided that the lack of technological savvy will not get in the way of patrolling their kids' online activity.

So why is it that when something does go terribly wrong and it's time for the media figure out why, that the conventional wisdom of parental involvement takes a backseat to the intrigue of new technology? Aren't we supposed to cover all our bases?

Posted by Veronica Marché at 5:39 PM | link

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And you are right, when will those who are the main "protectors" of our young take responsibility for what they have or have not done?

We see this so much! NBC has been running special after special on these situations and the issue.

Parents and parenting has become so very lazy. And I can understand coming home from a long days work, tired, and wanting the kids to chill out and calm down. But we need to stop letting computers raise our children and make them socially immature.

Parents, start spending time with your kids and keep asking questions. I am not saying follow them everywhere they go, and checking their computers, but be in their lives!

I used to think my moms was old fashion with the way she handles my nieces, but in this day and time I have realized, shoot you have to be old fashion if yu want to protect your children.

Posted by Blogger *Madosi @ 9:43 AM, June 22, 2006 #

It seems as if the Internet is the new babysitter - replacing the television of our youth. Parents not having the time - or energy - to police what their kids watch is nothing new. As a latchkey kid, my mom couldn't be there to monitor what I watched on TV 24 hours a day, but she instilled a sense of responsiblity (and the fear of a belt) in me so that I'd behave even when she wasn't looking. I think that foundation is what's missing in a lot of today's youth.

Posted by Blogger T Dot @ 10:08 AM, June 22, 2006 #

I work with children, teens, and young adults, and I know a lot of kids who can do more with the Internet than I can. HaHa like I'm that old.

I understand that parents feel these sites are what harbor predators and some do, but these sites are not the end all and be all.

Yes, MySpace and other networking sites should be monitored and patrolled as to prevent inappropriate usage, but that is a difficult task.

Parenting is also a difficult task, but parents blaming the Internet for possibly poor choices on the part of their young people does not evoke my sympathy.

I'm with Madosi "parents and parenting has become so very lazy".

People need to talk to their kids in an effort to communicate to them a sense of values. If your child values him or herself, if they value family, if they value friendships, and if they value meaningful relationships they won't go searching for appreciation and validation where it shouldn't exist. What your make believe friends think shouldn't matter.

I'm with T-Dot and the whole idea of a "sense of responsibility" aka accountability.

Parents need to make sure that their children hold themselves accountable.

Point blank I always tell the teens and young adults I work with,
"Always remember who you are (an individual) and whose you are (God's and your family's)."

The whole idea relates to self-esteem, and the all important idea of
"Know yourself, and to yourself be true."

Cliched but true.

Posted by Anonymous CNEL @ 6:00 PM, June 22, 2006 #

T dot's on it. I may have been a latchkey kid also, but I knew reality from entertainment, and I knew better to talk to strangers. But yeah people need to put the family computer in the family room or someting, so they're always watching them. It seems like so many parents think that what's on tv and the internet is safe for everyone, and just let kids go wild. My babies one day are gonna think I'm tough, but I bet I won't have to pick them up at a police station because police caught them with some grown azz man.

Posted by Blogger journiemajor @ 9:54 PM, June 23, 2006 #
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