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While Facebook appears harmless and “all the kids are doing it”, children do not understand the concept of people creating fake personas online. They also do not understand the concept of not entering personal information in any form online. Unfortunately, many of their parents aren’t even monitoring what they are doing online at all.
I have worked in the internet industry for 15 years. I like to think that I am pretty educated about the online world. I have talked to all of my children about what they can and cannot do while online. But, even with all of the education, I stumbled upon a Facebook profile for my 11 year old daughter that she was told she was not allowed to have. Thankfully, I monitor usage on a regular basis and was able to catch it fairly quick, however, it was not before she joined as an 18 year old female working at Dunkin Donuts going to high school and chatting with numerous people (at least according to her profile).
Even after numerous conversations with her, she still does not understand the concept that the person she is chatting to says they are a 10 year old girl, but could very well be a 45 year old man. She still willingly gave our unlisted phone number to a person she met while playing an online child’s game. So my question to you is “what is your child doing online”? While I know you want to believe that your child is responsible and using the internet safely, I would urge you to really examine their activity.
* View the history logs on your web browser regularly.
* Search Facebook for them and friends of theirs to see if they are listed as a member of Facebook.
* Search Google for their name and any email address they may use.
* Check for them on MySpace and YouTube
* Install a key logger – which will track what they type and will expose what they are doing when you aren’t looking
* Put the computer they use in an area of the home where someone is always able to see the screen!
Most of the time, you will find their activity is harmless. But many times, you will find activity that allows you to educate them and help make their online activity safer.