Q&A: Keeping kids safe on social networking sites

I am not even going to pretend to know the answer to this question, but I thought I'd bring it up and see if we could come up with anything. It's actually a bunch of questions I've gotten from readers with children of different ages, but it all seems to be part of the same issue of keeping our kids safe on the internet.

I got a couple of questions about sites like Club Penguin, in which the kids create characters and their characters can interact with characters created by other players. My 6 1/2-year-old plays CP, and I have to say that it looks safe to me. The things the characters can say to each other are pretty locked down, and you can report other players for saying things they shouldn't.

Again, the real key seems to be keeping the computer in a common area so you can monitor what your kid is doing, and so your child knows you know what's going on. Talking a lot about what's OK and what's not helps, too. My son has clicked off games he's run into a few times because they had shooting or other things we've talked about not being appropriate for him.

The tougher questions I got were from moms of kids old enough to be on Myspace and Facebook. I'm not on Myspace, so I don't know all the intricacies, but it looks like it's easier to run into trouble there, but also easier for parents to monitor. Your page is just kind of out in the open so anyone can stumble on it and talk to you, but at the same time this means all your business is posted right there for your parents to see.

Facebook is trickier. In some ways it's way safer, because your profile is locked down (assuming you set your privacy settings!) so only people you add to your friends list can see anything about you. But there are also ways to communicate privately with other members on your friends list, so that there's no external evidence of that. One mom who wrote me said that she joined FB to monitor her child on it, and her child knows that and they're FB friends, and she regularly monitors her child's wall. I think that's excellent communication, BUT 1) her child could have her on "limited profile" so she doesn't see everything the child has posted, and 2) no one sees the private messages people send each other. (And, thinking about some private message conversations I've been party to,  well, yeah. There's all sorts of stuff you can't see by looking at people's walls.) So there's no way to know how much she's really seeing of what her daughter does on Facebook. As long as she understands that, it OK.

My 15-year-old cousin is on FB and I know I pop over there every other day just to make sure nothing untoward is happening on her wall (her parents aren't on FB so I feel like I need to watch out for her), but I also know there''s all kinds of stuff I can't see.

I think the trick, though, is that your kids know that you care. And that, yes, they can sneak around you and do stuff they're not supposed to (like we all did), but that you are there trying to keep them safe. The same mom who joined FB also has an agreement with her daughter, so her daughter has written down her usernames and passwords in a sealed envelope just in case her parents need them. That, I think, is an awesome level of trust, on both sides–that the child deserves privacy but her parents need to be able to protect her.

What do you guys think? I'd especially love to hear from parents with kids on social networking sites who are willing to talk about the process you went through with your kids to establish guidelines that respect kids' privacy but also adults' responsibility.

63 thoughts on “Q&A: Keeping kids safe on social networking sites”

  1. Mallory is on Facebook and MySpace. I’m her friend on Facebook, as are tons of adult relatives and friends. I have her MySpace login and password and check up on her every week or so. That’s part of the deal with her having it.I worry far less about the stranger danger thing. We’ve been having talks about the “47 year-old guy from Ohio” who pretends to be a teen for a long, long time. My objections to MySpace are that I’ve seen all sorts of drama created in friendships and relationships. Kids will write stuff they would never say to another’s face. Mallory has only experienced this once, but I know friend’s kids who have gotten caught up in it.
    Once in awhile, I’ve had to ask her to remove a picture. She was wearing a strapless shirt and it made her look naked since it was taken from the shoulders up.
    MySpace has a whole privacy filter too, so not anyone can just go on her page. She also doesn’t use her real name, so if she is googled it’s not going to come up.
    What I’ve noticed on Facebook is how many teens don’t enact the privacy setting and say stupid or provocative things to each other. Nothing that will really put them in danger, but just would look stupid in five years if an employer did and internet search.
    My kids have to be 16 before they can do any of it. They can email or IM before that, but can’t have a FB or MySpace.
    My younger kids are on Webkinz, and from what I can tell it’s mostly safe. They are friends only with other people’s webkinz they know. The computer is in a very public area with a very large screen so it’s hard to have any kind of privacy.
    Rory is on Polyvore once in awhile and I just learned that they have a chat function, but she only does it with her friend Emily.
    My advice, get in there and join Facebook or even MySpace before your kids do so you can see how it works. See if you think your kids can handle it.
    Mallory finally convinced me to let her have MySpace because she said no one emailed anymore and it was how everyone communicated. I did a little investigating and found out it was true.
    Build some trust with your kids, see if they are making good decisions in other areas of their lives, and then act accordingly.

  2. I discussed these issues with the kids – but arguably, you can lay down the law but once they’re beyond under your nose all the time age, they are as likely to do stuff you don’t know about on the Internet as off. (Really, I worry much more about off – I am terrified for them when they’re out in a car, and I think that’s a much more grounded fear than the stranger on the Internet thing. One daughter had a nasty accident her first year driving – just new driver issues, no fault involved. I never want that kind of phone call ever again!) I educate and hope for the best – I’m not setting rules I have no way of realistically enforcing. In a few months it’s pretty much out of my hands, anyway.My parents had to worry themselves sick about me every time I left the house as a teen (Bronx. Seventies. ‘Nuff said.) I think I have it easy, comparatively speaking.

  3. I’m not on Facebook, although the way things are going I guess I’m going to have to give in. Too many adults I know and want to stay in touch with are there.I’m on MySpace (hence the reluctance to join yet ANOTHER social networking site). I joined, like your friend, to keep an eye on what my then teenagers were doing. Most of them thought it was “cool” that their mom was into it. And I found it a convenient way to communicate with their friends when I posted new sports photos of them on tabblo.com.
    MySpace is no more “all out in the open” than Facebook. You can have your profile set to private so that only your “friends” can see what you’re doing.
    For a long time, my daughter wouldn’t be my “friend” on MySpace. She resented that I would look at her profile and those of her friends, said I was “spying” on her, and that people could tell who had looked at their profile, so her friends were uncomfortable with my poking around, too. I tried till I was blue in the face to explain that as a parent, it was my JOB to see what she was up to and to see what kind of friends she was hanging out with and talking to.
    Because she wanted privacy, she made her profile private, so only friends could see what she had on her pages. Given that she was a minor at the time, I was happy with that. My point was that anyone in the world could see what she and her friends were writing; I just wanted to know what the pervs out there could see.
    Of course there are things that are hidden. I’m not interested in reading every little note. I’m not with my kid 24-hours a day (we don’t see what they do and talk about at school, between classes, at recess, etc.) and don’t need to know every little detail of her life to be aware of whether or not her friends are of good character, whether she’s up to something illicit or whether she’s headed in the “wrong direction.” But when MySpace became a big part of their everyday life, you can bet I was going to see what it was about, and check in periodically.
    My daughter is 18 now, and away at college. She still uses MySpace, but she’s matured enough to let me be her “friend.”

  4. I love the idea of having the login and passwords in a sealed envelope–just in case. When my kids are old enough to use this technology (as long as it hasn’t changed by then) I hope I remember that idea.

  5. I don’t have to deal with this much yet–Frances is not yet five–but a blog I really like and follow called apophenia is written by an expert in youth online. She has a post up right now about safety for kids online, in fact.www dot zephoria dot org slash thoughts
    Look through the categories down towards the bottom in the sidebar to find more, if you’re interested.

  6. I’ve thought about this a lot, but my children are only 2 and 6 months so it really doesn’t apply to me yet. However, I am a prosecutor and so I have a heightened awareness of “stranger danger” and the like and we often discuss things like this at work. Because of my job, I am not on MS or FB because I don’t want too much personal info out there. Retaliation is something I have to be aware of and so I don’t put myself out there more than necessary. I suppose I will get an account though once my children get older so I can check up on what’s going on.I don’t really have a suggestion about this topic, but I am eager to hear what other parents think about “keystroke software.” (I’m not sure that’s the right term, but I mean software that one puts on their computer that monitors what users type.) One fellow co-worker has keystroke software on his computer at home. His kids don’t know it, and he checks it periodically. Anyone have thoughts about this?

  7. Both of my boys are on FB, but not MySpace. I am their friend on FB, and I know both their logins and their passwords because I set up their accounts. In fact, my youngest son’s FB e-mail is MY e-mail address, so I know when he has any activity on his page.I told them both that I would keep track of them just by being their “friend,” but if I saw anything I was unsure about, that I would not hesitate to log in as them and check their whole profile. I’ve only done it once (an older girl was posting weird things on my 11-year-old’s page so I went in as him and unfriended her), but they know that *I* know how to do it, so I think it keeps them on the straight and narrow.
    Our computer is in the office, but the office is off the kitchen and the door is never allowed to be closed. Ever. Not even my husband and I can close it when we’re in there.

  8. I’m not a parent, but I am a high school teacher, and I applaud all of you for thinking about this. I’m facebook “friends” with students who I’ve taught who are now in college (my rule is that you have to graduate from this school to be my friend) and every once in a while a current student who has photo settings set to “friend of a friend” will post something incriminating that shows up on my newsfeed. Then I’m left with an ethical dilemma. Add to it that I work at a day/boarding school and the affiliate in loco parentis issues and we’re really wrestling with facebook/myspace stuff.But, it’s not about me. I think as parents you have to educate and be vigilant as much as you can without taking away the opportunity for students to grow and learn in this new frontier. Those of us in schools appreciate parents’ hard work on the subject.

  9. One thing DH and I have been talking about is how to monitor social networking in the age of the IPhone and similar devices.Our oldest is 4- but I’m thinking that by the time she is in junior high school most of her friends will at least have some kind of portable device that provides access to the Internet wherever and whenever. So the “no computers in the room” idea is of limited value. Any ideas? We can try to get her login-password info, but what is to stop a clever and rebellious pre-teen from setting up multiple accounts?
    *Sigh* I guess this is one of those trust-is-a-two-way-street issues where you cannot expect to control EVERYTHING as a parent. Maybe the best you can do is attempt to monitor, do a lot of teaching, and hope for the best.
    Well, for now our plan is to start early and often with discussions about online privacy. And now that I’ve read some of these posts, I’m thinking we need to include social networking scenarios/hypotheticals in our bullying discussions, too. I am also making an effort to stay abreast of the latest technology.

  10. anon for this- i totally am on for the keystroke software- i know this has all sorts of privacy/trust issues with your kid, but i just have this overriding sense of needing to protect my kids over their need for privacy- as a pp mentioned it would probably be just for skimming to be aware if there were any big things that i didn’t know of otherwise. i think communication is key with your kids, and should be the number one goal in any relationship, but i also know that adolescence is a time where most kids instinctively hide things from their parents, and think they can make adult decisions that they really aren’t prepared to make. i think about all the stupid things i did as a teenager that my parents (mostly) didn’t know about, and it’s only by the grace of god that i didn’t get hurt or in serious trouble.i’m also wondering about what folks think about cell phones and sidekicks for their kids- the kids i work with (high school aged kids) almost all have them, and i have huge mixed feelings about them…

  11. MySpace also allows private profiles.The person you really need to read on this is danah boyd (http://www.zephoria.org) — she’s pretty much the expert on teens and social networking sites (Berkeley PhD, Berkman fellow at Harvard, has testified before Congress, etc.) and the things she has to say are lucid, sensitive, and grounded in ethnography.

  12. I think a lot depends on what you consider to be safe or unsafe. Full reveal: I was on the ‘net in its relative infancy, starting at age 18, had cybersex, AND met a married man and had an affair with him (I know, I know), and eventually met my husband. And I’ve run into all kinds of gross things, done stupid things, cried and sobbed over crappy drama, etc.None of these things presented danger like I experienced drinking at a high school dance, and my first university party was more dangerous by about 1000%. Walking the dog was more dangerous. Honestly.
    Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Michael Kimmel’s Guyland but I see campus initiations and teen parties to be way, way, way more dangerous. I do not think that the dangers of social media are all that huge until they go offline. Yes, it would be disturbing to find out that some idiot was getting off on a picture of your teen daughter – but she is still in her room and he is in his basement, or whatever. It is upsetting, and emotionally violating and gross and needs to be dealt with on that basis. No question. But honestly, really, truly, I think a day at high school is much more dangerous when you really get down to it, especially with the way sports teams are hazed, etc.
    The one exception might be bullying, but you know I believe bullying is on the rise in all media, and at least with cyberbullying that remains in that space, one can turn it off by walking away from the computer. (Unlike at school – not that there aren’t crossovers.)
    I believe that social media should be treated like a playdate. When your kids are younger, you supervise heavily. As they get older you set appropriate rules and gradually, thoughtfully, back out. Some of the iron rules of course include “do not ever meet anyone from the ‘net in person without clearing it with me and I will be sitting across the aisle of that anonymous coffee shop by the way.”
    I do not think it is appropriate to try to monitor everything a mid to older teenager says or types in a keystroke any more than you should attach bugs to their clothing to hear what he or she is saying to his or her friends, people on the bus, cute 24 yr old working at the variety store, etc.
    As for privacy… yes employers will look, now. But as time progresses there will just be so much information out there that I think it will be less and less important.
    Anyways that’s my controversial statement for the day.

  13. Oh, pnuts mama–don’t even get me started on cell phones. I am totally pro-phone, at least for this big city. And NYC public schools don’t allow cell phones in the buildings, which I think is incredibly short-sighted. I wonder how many years until there’s a class action suit about that.

  14. I do worry about this issue. And although DS is only 14 months it has sort of raised it’s head because both DH and I are on facebook but we have a strict rule about not posting pictures of DS. We want to protect his privacy as long as possible. And a friend of mine (who works at child services and has twins the same age as DS) freaked me out about how internet predators look for prey. I’ve had to ask friends and family members to take pictures of DS down from their facebook profiles.And, I am facing a real dilemna about this issue at the moment. On facebook this weekend I noticed a series of photos entitled “Girls Night Out” showing my 17 year-old female cousin in a series of incriminating half-naked pictures surrounded by empty vodka bottles. I know I did some things I’m not proud of in my crazy youth, but thankfully I didn’t have to worry about those moments being captured and splashed on the internet. Do I tell her mom? Her brother was in a car accident earlier this year and is now a quadrapalegic, so her mom is dealing with that at the moment too…I want to chalk it up to kids being kids, but if it were MY kid, I think I’d want to know.

  15. I don’t have kids old enough to use this yet, but I do keep tabs on my now 19 year old sister in law on FB, and she’s actually more conscience than I am of things like this. I think it is about trust, and about keeping the computer out in the open, just like the tv. No computer or tv in the bedroom. Kids are much less prone to do stuff that they shouldn’t be doing if they are in the presence of the whole family.

  16. I don’t know how I’m going to deal with this when M grows up. Back when my nieces thought I was cool and didn’t hide stuff from me, I saw them at 14 and 15 say they were much older online. They agreed to meet up with a guy, though they told me they’d never do it. And I’ve recently done a simple search for someone on Facebook and seen a really obscene nude picture in the search results. I’m guessing Facebook polices these things and pulled the picture, but it was at least there momentarily. I don’t think this is a terrifying topic or anything. I just hate that kids have to be exposed to such junk. I don’t want her seeing this stuff on TV or on the Internet.

  17. My 8 year old is on Webkinz. She isn’t allowed to be friends with anyone she doesn’t know IRL. They opened a “clubhouse” where supposedly you can chat beyond the canned phrases in the rest of the site, though they don’t allow numbers or swears. My rule is that she can sign up for that only if her IRL friends are, because I would only allow her to chat with them, not with strangers. So far she hasn’t made the effort to find anyone else whose parents have given permission, so I haven’t allowed her to sign up.I think the problem with keystroke logging is that if you ever do find something, you have to admit you were snooping. This is the same issue as snooping on a spouse, in some ways. Yes, if the issue you uncover is serious enough you’ll be glad you did. But you are also in the position of admitting you didn’t trust your kid at the same time you are trying to exert authority to convince them to stop what they are doing.
    And, yes, in a few years it will be harder to enforce the rule about “online only in the family room” when kids have their own smart phones. Even if I gave my daughter a computer to do high school homework in her room, I guess I could disable wireless somehow. But if she’s 16 and wants a cell phone, will I be able to control what she uses it for? Probably not.

  18. Shandra, you’re totally right.I guess I hadn’t even thought about how I was conceptualizing this. For younger kids (like my son’s age) I just don’t want him to get drawn into stuff on the net that he’s not ready to be exposed to yet.
    But for older kids (like my cousin) I’ve really (without realizing it) been thinking in terms of finding evidence of offline stuff. Which means that my concern is that they’re posting the funny happy photos and funny wall posts, but the private stuff is about the wild parties and dangerous chances. And that it’s all hidden from the adults. Not that they’re doing that stuff online, but that it’s happening in our rec rooms and being posted online but not where we can see it.
    This is all so fascinating.

  19. I agree with everything pnuts mama just said.About trust with pre-teen & teenage kids living under your roof — I honestly think parents need to worry less about violating kids’ privacy, and worry more about what their kids are actually doing and what’s being done to their kids.
    When I was a teen living with my parents, they should have totally searched my room, read my diary, and rifled through the shoebox of notes between me & my friends. Then they should have had a dialogue with me about what they uncovered that I wasn’t telling them: that I was drinking, sexing, sneaking out of the house, considering suicide, shoplifting, etc. Ugly stuff. But denial was a lot easier for them, I suppose. My point? The norm is that kids do crazy bad things behind parents’ backs. Why parents fetishize “trusting” so much is beyond me – though I suppose denial is a powerful force.
    My son is still a baby, and I, too, fear the wild technology of the future. Like my grandma used to say “Nothing good ever happens after midnight.” My gut is now telling me that “Nothing good ever happens to kids on social networking sites.” Does anyone have a perspective about banning them entirely for the whole family? What could be the consequences of allowing your kid to start using the sites only when they’re in college? Or is banning such sites a pipe dream, given all of the handheld technology these days?

  20. once they are old enough for a smart phone, or computer not in rec room, at least in my opinion, they are old enough for a car yada yada yada. I think at that point, you have to lean on the teaching them about being online–lots and lots of things about being online—don’t believe everything you read, biases of online gossip pages, even blogs, making sure you represent yourself like you want to be represented, privacy in a digital world, talking on a cell phone in public places, copyright laws, etc.

  21. I like that, “nothing good happens after midnight” As a child, we didn’t talk on the phone after 10pm, and my husband and I still institute that for ourselves, and we’re grown. Now if someone calls us late, we think that it is an emergency. I think we can have the same thing…no computer or social networking after a certain time. I don’t think you can limit access to certain sites until college, but I don’t know since I was in college when I first had high speed Internet access.

  22. @Jac- in your position, I’d probably say something directly to my cousin and leave her Mom out of it (for now). As you say, her Mom is dealing with a lot of other stuff, and maybe the girl could use another sympathetic woman to talk to? But that is just me, and I obviously don’t know your family dynamics.Pumpkin is ages away from being online (she’s not even 2!) but Hubby and I think a lot about online privacy. I’ve opted for a sort of in between road- I use an alias, so if I google my real name the only thing I find about me is stuff I have decided to put on my non-anonymous website. I don’t post photos with our faces on my blog. But anyone who knows me IRL could easily recognize me from my blog (and some have), and I share the blog with my family.
    The technology will be different by the time Pumpkin is old enough to need rules on it, and I am too busy thinking about how to handle toddler tantrums to have thought very deeply on this. My gut instinct is that even technophile parents like me and Hubby are probably not going to be up to date enough on the latest things to make good specific rules, so we’re going to need to have some good guiding principles to try to teach Pumpkin.

  23. @Jac – Obviously the danger there is not the pictures, but the party. I would speak to either the cousin or her mum, and I’d get a copy of Guyland – it really is a good book. It focuses on the young men, but it discusses the dangers to young women too.@Hush, honest question – do you think your parents would have really stopped you in the long run from doing those things? Or would there have been a possibility that you would have made bigger mistakes (at least with worse consequences) later?
    I had the pleasure of speaking with Michael Kimmel over the phone and he said what is so disastrous is that kids are really supervised strongly until they go off to college – and then suddenly, no supervision, and they haven’t had the opportunity to make mistakes – and work through their own ethical boundaries – in the meantime. I’m not sure harsh limits are the answer.

  24. @Jac – can you tell a little more about the strategies used by internet predators? or give a link on where to go? i’m afraid to google around randomly on those sorts of things.I don’t have any comments on this subject yet. G is too small still and technology is going to change a lot even in the few years it takes for him to start noticing it/using it.

  25. The Symantec (Norton) web site has some information about online safety for families. Also, if you have Norton Internet Security or Norton 360, you can download a free add-on pack of parental controls.My 14 year old step-son has facebook and myspace accounts. I signed up with facebook so that I could see his profile, I logged in as him on myspace so that I could see what was going on there. Although it was disconcerting to see it, once I digested it, it seemed mostly harmless (in his case). There wasn’t much in the way of identifying information, you couldn’t see much of anything about him or his friends unless you were a member of the network and in his circle.
    As far as the keylogging software, what I have done is look at what keywords he’s been searching on his computer and what kind of stuff is in the drop-down of the address bar.
    I’m really more concerned about my cousins who are in college and posting sort of questionable stuff on their facebook pages – mostly because of potential employers googling them; my 5 year old mis-spelling something in a search and ending up with all sorts of adult material; and the time-suck that social networking sites are for my step-son and his burgeouning time management skills.
    I agree with previous posters and tend to think that getting a ride home with one of his schoolmates is more dangerous than what he’s doing online at this point.
    I think Hedra’s underlying philosophies of parenting for the long run really come in handy with this stuff, as older kids are starting to be making their own decisions and everyone is starting to have to trust their judgement.

  26. hahaha, nothing bad ever happens after midnight- my parents must have thought that, too since that was my weekend curfew in high school…funny thing, i was totally able to have sex before midnight…bean just woke up, i’ll be back to post more thoughts about the cell phone thing…also the trust vs. protection…

  27. @pennifer – well, there’s lots of information about how predators can track kids, which is why it is sooo important to teach kids not to give out personal details over the internet. But what my friend told me (which is what freaked me out) is that if someone sees a picture of your kid and it catches their fancy (this is so horrible to even think about), a predator can glean a lot of information just from the pictures. So if I put up a bunch of fun pictures from our summer, showing us hanging out at local parks and pools, a predator could learn that those would be good places to hang out if they wanted to bump into us. Our baptismal pictures could lead someone to figure out what church we go to. The fear is not that someone might try to get at my son over the internet, but that the internet has become a tool for them to learn a lot about my family, our activities, and to get at my family in real life.It’s funny, I’m normally not really overprotective (some may even call me a lazy parent). I let my kid chew on practically everything and ignore most of his bumps and tumbles. But I feel pretty strongly about maintaining his privacy on the internet.

  28. Here is an interesting link detailing the pros and cons of having cell phones at school:http://teachingtechnology.suite101.com/article.cfm/fair_cell_phone_use_in_schools
    I think most of the benefits mentioned could still apply without actually having the phone in the classroom. I honestly think there is so much misuse of cell phones (photographing exam papers and putting them on the internet, for example)that I completely understand the blanket banning in many schools. Outside school, well that’s another story. I feel so much happier knowing my child is(will be)contactable at all times.

  29. @Jac – I say all power to you. I don’t think there’s any need whatsoever to post pics of your child online. But just remember that the chances that a predator will track your son down on the Internet are really miniscule.http://preilly.wordpress.com/2006/12/27/the-facts-about-internet-sexual-abuse-and-schools/
    It is about proximity – most predators will go for the kids nearest to them. I think we focus on the Internet in part because it’s new and in part because it means we don’t have to face our kids’ coaches, teachers, etc. and ask the difficult questions.

  30. This is only vaguely related–but I think there’s a lot to be said for making your kid jump through hoops to hide stuff from you. I’m kind of speaking tongue in cheek here, but I’m also kind of serious. There’s a quote unquote problem family on our block–the mom is totally out to lunch. Her kids do everything right in front of her. DH and I always say, wonderingly: “I had to go sneak to smoke cigarettes when I was that age!” God knows what else they’re doing in front of her, with her. So she’s completely relinquished any control. So like Moxie says–it’s important that your kids know that you care–you really, seriously care–about their safety. And I think with the social networking sites, there is a lot of gulping and hoping you taught them the right lessons, at the right time.

  31. Jac, I think it’s really important to keep it in perspective though. You could be hanging out all those places with child molesters. Though don’t have to look for you from the internet. They’ve been stalking kids long before computers were invented. You have to have safe practices in life and it will keep you safe virtually and in real life.And really it’s far more likely that your child will be victimized by someone you know and they know rather than someone who comes looking for them from a baptismal picture.
    One of my children had a best friend whose parent turned out to be a molester. I would have trusted this person (and did) with my child. I knew them socially for over 5 years, never had any indication there was anything up. Luckly, there wasn’t with my child. Others weren’t so lucky. I really think there are far more serious dangers waiting in our own back yard then on the internet. We should be cautious about both, but put the emphasis on real life.

  32. @Shandra, my answer to your question is both a yes and a no. Yes, I do think if my parents had intervened with a loving, non-shaming approach when the “findable evidence” started showing up in 8th grade, it would have told me they actually loved me. That kind of “stern care” would probably have helped me to make better choices. If they had been able to get past their denial, they also could have found me a therapist, and helped me choose some healthier activities & friends.No, I don’t think their intervention would have ever prevented me from making those initial bad choices, or all of my future bad choices, which I honestly feel most normal kids make somewhere along the way. It would have totally depended on HOW they approached the intervention dialogue — “We love you and are so concerned about you” would have gotten through to me, versus “We’re the boss and you broke our rules” without any deeper analysis, which would not have worked at all.
    I really get what you’re saying & agree about the one extreme of overly sheltered kids lacking street smarts once they get to college; who end up having no boundaries, drinking to excess, and never learn to self-motivate. And I get the fallacy of overly harsh limits, where there are tons of brightline rules without any meaningful education about safety & prevention; where the fundamentalist family who deals in denial’s oldest daughter is pregnant at 17 because they mistakenly believed abstinence-only education actually works, etc.
    I guess I wonder what the utility really is of allowing kids access to these sites. From a functional perspective, how does it differ from letting kids do other sedentary activities like playing video games, watching tv – how does any of it really benefit the child? I might be missing something I think – so please feel free to share any positive experiences your kids may have.
    I do think harsh limits sometimes have their place, but that’s predicated on the parent’s ability to keep it real. For example, DH & I have our own “harsh limit” that kids are not ever going to be allowed to play with guns, or go to someone’s home where they keep guns. Now, perhaps we are denying them the opportunity to “learn from making mistakes,” and they’ll become college kids who make bad, unethical decisions around guns. Our hope is, once they grow up and come of age, if they want to learn about guns or something else we don’t embrace in our home, that they will have developed a foundation of self-care & the skills to handle potential danger responsibly, in spite of us having failed to expose them at an early age.

  33. i’m with hush on the track of: what are the benefits of kids being online? is it the reality of the future that we can’t fight? so does this help prep them for the technology-saturated lives they’ll be living? or do we try and take a step back and analyze if we think it’s such a good idea for our society to remove ourselves more and more from face to face, human interaction for virtual reality?i think rudyinparis is on track, too, that at some point you have to hope as a parent that the strong foundations you’ve built bear up as your kids grow into adulthood- but keeping in mind that you still need to be a source of support during your kids entire life, if that makes sense.

  34. @jac-Without knowing your family, I think you should absolutely say SOMETHING to either your cousin or her Mom, or both.
    I would probably approach the cousin directly first. Not a lot of preaching, but more of a “Hey, what the F is this about?”
    I would probably also tell the Mom. I might encourage your cousin to tell her Mom herself and explain that if she doesn’t, you will have to.
    This sounds counter-intuitive…but I think it is a mistake to leave the mother out of the loop because she is dealing with other heavy tragedy.

  35. @hush – that makes total sense when you write it out like that and I appreciate your viewpoint.For the “what is the utility of online social media” – first I guess we are posting this to each other on a blog right? 🙂
    My son is only 3, but my niece and nephews (who lived with us briefly) are in prime social media age.
    That is how their friends communicate – it’s how they decide what they are doing that weekend; what to wear to the dance (uploading pictures from the store taken on cell phones); work through homework problems, etc.
    It is the coffee shop/library/telephone for kids today. In a way I think we’ve created that for them, not only by providing the tools but because we don’t really let them hang out at the mall, get to each others’ houses on their own steam, hang out in the back laneway, etc.
    Does that mean I think it’s some kind of dire necessity? No – depending on the child. But I actually, myself, prefer social media to video games or television in some ways because it’s more real in the sense that it is interacting with real people, not a game world.
    I am a little suspect ’cause I’m a web editor for a magazine for women aged 40+ though, so I am definitely immersed in that world professionally. Personally, I never check my Facebook account – but then I’m old. 🙂

  36. “hahaha, nothing bad ever happens after midnight- my parents must have thought that, too since that was my weekend curfew in high school…funny thing, i was totally able to have sex before midnight…”Pnuts mama, so was I! Kids are sneaky bastards, arent they? Which leads me to..
    Yeah, it’s great that you are your childs “friend” on MySpace, and that you have their account password and everything *squeal*, but what about their real MySpace account, the one that they created without you knowing? Because if I was a kid and knew that my mom or dad or aunt or any adult was reading my MySpace, I would make a new one so fast! Im sure that your kid is the one trustworthy one out there, but if you think for one second that they dont have other secret accounts, you are wrong. In fact, your kid is probably a genius b/c by making an all-access deal with you, s/he has lured you into thinking that you actually do have total access. Which you dont, because they have multiple accounts. The end.
    When my kids are little, really I dont see a point to mmorpgs or networking sites. Regular old video games are plenty. By the time they get their first cell phone, all phones will be like the iPhone, so this argument will be moot.

  37. @Shandra and Lisa -I agree with both of your comments. I don’t protect my child’s privacy over the internet to the exclusion of protecting him in real life – of course not. And I KNOW they are more likely to meet a molester in real life. I just don’t see the need to make it easier for them. On this one particular issue, I think about it in terms of possibilities, not probabilities – and I’ve relied on the advice of a friend I trust who works in this field. The odds may be miniscule – I’m still not putting pictures up 🙂
    There is, of course, a secondary issue here – which is that DS is entitled to his own privacy. I am all for people sharing their own stuff on-line (I do it) but I do dislike other people sharing my stuff (i.e. posting pictures of me that I haven’t okayed). That’s just a pet peeve of mine. If DS turns out anything like me, perhaps he’ll be grateful that I didn’t share him with the world too much.
    @Michelle G and Cloud – I think I will approach the cousin first. It didn’t actually occur to me to do that (duh) because I was thinking about this with my parent hat on, but given what is going on with her brother, she probably could use a friend. Thanks.

  38. Personally I knew 6 people whose parents were strict to an extreme. I wouldn’t call them fundamentalists but they certainly didn’t trust their kids or their kids’ friends. They weren’t aloud at sleepovers, mall gatherings, no private phone calls, no private anything for that matter. I’ll spare you the horror stories about the 2 that retaliated before 18 but the other four were freed into the world at 18 and in total shock. No sense of self-motivation, no sense of self, period.I definitely came from an “ignorance is bliss” household and did a lot of stupid things right under my parents noses. IMO neither of these scenarios are desirable. Just like nearly anything else, a middle of the road approach seems to garner the best results. Give your kids the tools to make the right choices and if they don’t you’ll be there as a support person and a disciplinarian. I’m not saying let them fall on their faces but we learn from mistakes and we have to let them make a couple of their own to gain a sense of self. I think having them put their login info in an envelope, though certainly not fool proof, is a great example of this.
    And while social networking sites are not a necessity by any means they are the norm these days and by cutting your kids off from the social norm you may be dooming them to social hell, which for the parent is fine but to a 16 year old can be devastating. What’s that quote about moderation… 🙂

  39. Wow this is such a great topic. Thanks Moxie and everyone for the informative and thought-provoking discussion so far.@Jac – I ran into a similar problem this summer, when I first signed onto Facebook (at my boss’ plea to run my company’s “page” and place ads, etc)…I fell in love with it because it allowed me to keep up with friends and family all over the country, share pictures, etc.
    At a family event I asked my DH’s younger cousins if they were on FB and they all said yes, so we became friends. The youngest was just turning 18 and graduating from high school. Within a week she had posted pictures from a graduation party (complete with boys doing keg stands and her wearing ONLY a string bikini in every shot). Aside from my longing to have an 18-year-old body again, I was worried about her decision to post such pictures…going to that party is one thing (God knows I went to a few parties and wore a few bikinis in my day) but immortalizing it for everyone to see on the Internet was a bit scary to me. I can’t even imagine how I would feel about pictures of some of the things I have done being available to employers, my spouse, my kids!
    So I simply sent her a message – on Facebook – saying how proud we were of her on her graduation and how much she must be looking forward to going away to college…and then I launched into the “you should always keep in mind what your choices say about you…if I had just seen those pictures from that party I would have thought you are a totally different person than you are. I am only concerned because I want people to know the smart, funny, athletic, beautiful woman I know…not a party girl.
    She took the photos down the next day and sent me back a message saying her older brother had seen them and basically come unglued the night before as well (beat me to it!)
    This is such an interesting topic to me…even though my kids are still very young (2.5 and 16 months) I already have friends with kids in high school and middle school and I know it is a constant struggle and fight in their households.
    We also have a 10 year old nephew and we are dealing with this right now. He goes to my in-laws everyday after school and basically either watches weird Japanese animation on TV or plays online with relatively no supervision. I brought up my concerns to his mom and my MIL after he “friended” me on FB. Neither of them even knew he was on the site or had ever been on the site themselves. Scary, to say the least.
    I think in the end we all have to trust OURSELVES enough to know that we know our kids, we have educated ourselves on the threats (as our participation in this discussion proves) and we will make decisions and rules based on our own experiences, children, etc. I think the suggestions some people have had are great, but I don’t believe there are any hard and fast rules that will work for every family.
    I hope that by growing up in this technological/social-networking generation my kids will have an even deeper understanding of the dangers, but I also hope that because my DH and I are already talking about these issues that conversation continues and includes them as they grow up.

  40. @hush “For example, DH & I have our own “harsh limit” that kids are not ever going to be allowed to play with guns, or go to someone’s home where they keep guns.”How do you know if someone keeps guns in their house? I always answer honestly, and they are stored in a safe (not a gun cabinet). Are you safer in my house or in the large number of houses where people keep guns in their nightstand and won’t answer honestly? FWIW, I’m not offended in the least if people ask, nor if their kids aren’t allowed over. But I think that you’re deluding yourself if you think that’s a question people are generally honest about.

  41. Benefits of kids being online? The ‘Net is a fabulous research tool, especially if you have someone knowledgeable (Librarian Mom?) to show you the ropes. And many of the print sources which are now online have become obsolete, not to mention they’re not availlable 24/7.Also socializing with friends. I know I was on the phone for hours on end as a teen, this is just their version of that.
    Oh yeah… and applying to colleges!

  42. ALSO, I think it is widely assumed, b/c it is the norm in our houses, that everyone/teen is online. This is simply not true. Although, obviously, many many people are, I worked with teens in a youth home. They couldnt have internet unless they owned a computer and paid for the phone and hook-up, so they didnt have it. None of them seemed to care. They were WAY more interested in having cell phones than the internet. I also have plenty of neighbors who dont have computers or internet, largely due to financial reasons. So there are a lot of non-sheltered children out there who do not have MySpace and are not suffering socially. Just an observation.I agree that the net is an awesome research tool. I dont know what I would do w/out it.

  43. This is an interesting topic. Since I am not a parent yet I can only answer it from my own experience as a teenager.I started going on the internet a log during my mid-teens. My parents had no clue, as they were not very tech savvy, and I never ever would have told them about anything like myspace or facebook if I’d had it at the time. Now, of course, my communication with my parents was practically nonexistant at the time… but for me the internet was a GREAT resource of information and friends at a time in my life when I had little of that in RL. My privacy there was a huge thing for me. Having parents or anyone else be aware of that totally would have taken that away from me. Yes, there was internet drama, and yes, I perhaps got too involved with “people on the internet that are not real” (no 40 year old predators, just people I really liked that lived far away when perhaps I should have focused on making friends that were closer to me geographically) but you know what? So what. It was a learning experience for me and although a lot can be said about my parents and how I was raised, I definitely had my head on straight and never would have gone to meet anyone by myself that I only knew through the internet. I did spend a lot of time on it, perhaps time that was better spent on something else, but would it have been better if my parents had restricted my access? I don’t think so. It was my maturity, my growing up that I had to do, and this was one of the ways that it took place. Being restricted and having my parents try to monitor my internet access (which would have been totally impossible at the time, btw) only would have made me feel more trapped, with less resources, more isolated and less understood. My privacy on the internet was my lifeline for a long time, and I got so much out of blogging and interacting with people that way.
    Now the issue of posting pictures of drunken shenanigans is a totally different thing… privacy settings are important, but I still like to believe that teenagers have the capacity to make good decisions, especially if their parents have instilled good values from the beginning.
    For young children then yes, visibility is an absolute must. It would be awesome if a culture of open communication was in place that could continue into teenagerhood.

  44. Thanks so much, Moxie, for posting this – I’m reading through the responses and will make many mental notes. Great topic.

  45. This topic interests me so much I’m actually doing my undergraduate thesis on censorship and the internet, so while I don’t have kids (yet) this is something that’s been on my mind, and something I’ve discussed at length with my partner.My own experience is probably very, very different from most people. I grew up in the early days of the internet, and I grew up in a farming community – my nearest friend was about ten miles away cross-country. My parents ran their own business, and were *gone* nearly every weekend during my teenage years, starting leaving me alone for the weekend when I was fifteen. We had a good neighbour, and they felt that they’d raised competent kids. It wasn’t an issue for anyone actually involved, although friends’ parents were pretty horrified.
    Because of this, they had no real ability to “monitor” our internet communiques, and to be honest, the few times they considered it, I gave good reasons why they shouldn’t. And if that failed, the internet was a place where really, they depended on me. I learned how to build computers, fix them, set up the business software and run the accounting ones. If they had even TRIED to demand my own passwords, or put a keylogger on, I would have a) found a way to get around it, b) set up a trap specifically to prove to them how ridiculous they were being, and c) if neither of these worked, removed all in house tech support – they would have had to pay someone else. Did I do thinks that would have horrified my mother? Yes. Did I put myself in potentially dangerous situations? Yup. Did I meet people I did not previously know in real life online? Of course. Did I talk to married men? Yup. Was I under age? Of course. Dateline would have loved me, really.
    And now? I hold down a full time job, while doing a full time undergraduate degree. I pay my tuition in cash, have my own apartment, car, and stupid cats. I am proud of how self-sufficient I am, because I was allowed to make decisions for myself, and if I screwed up, it was only me that could fix it.
    I personally think that kids will always be more savvy than parents with technology – they’re acclimatized to it in a way that the older group isn’t. Kids learn all this like, perhaps, learning new languages – it’s so much easier when you’re young. While my own group started doing some incredibly stupid stuff, pretty quickly we realized just how accessible it was to others, and knocked it off. We learned to use pseudonyms, multiple accounts, never to post pictures that showed faces, and to erase our tracks, not so much to avoid any kind of threat from strangers, or to confuse our parents, but more to avoid intergroup drama – and people we didn’t like using it against us. And one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had recently is talking to this old group, some of whom are now new parents, and getting their impressions and what boundaries they’ll set for their kids (Although we do snicker at one guy’s statement that he won’t let his child use the internet unsupervised until he’s sixteen. Good luck with that.)
    My own plan is to just keep communication open and constant. I knew that if anything terribly bad happened, I could go to my mother, and she’d help. I intend to talk to the kids about consequences – help them understand *why* certain things might be a bad idea in certain situations, and help them set up their own rules, rather than the blanket imposition of my own. When I was sixteen, two of my big rules were that I wouldn’t meet anyone in person unless we’d been talking for a year, and that I wouldn’t talk to anyone more than five years older than me. By creating the rules with the kids, by talking it all through with them, I think that’s what’s going to work best for myself and my family.

  46. I am a Technology Teacher for an elementary school. I hear what kids (1st-4th grade) say about social sites. Most parents are clueless to what their children are actually doing on these sites.(yes, even VERY young kids) Even if you (parent) are their “friend” they can still hide a lot of stuff for you. If you want to know more, google your child’s name. If you want to know what people are saying about your child, put their name in quotation marks before you google it.My oldest daughter is in 2nd grade. She is not alllowed on FB or MySpace but she does have a Shining Stars account. My husband and I do not have any social networking accounts. When my kids get older, we will have MANY long talks before they can even consider it. I have been to way too many meetings/conferences about online safety and I don’t think these sites are worth the hassle (JUST MY OPINION 🙂 !)
    Moxie: If you want some interesting facts to post, email me and I will send info from a presentation I attended.

  47. Okay, this whole topic makes me sweat.Fortunately, so far, my kids aren’t interested. Much. The eldest has decided he’s going to go low-tech, so he’s intentionally not getting involved in stuff like this. More concerning are the younger kids, but… I’m not thinking about it quite yet. Not not not. Brain full already! (La la la la la la I can’t hear you – okay, so I will think about it soon, but not just now. And then, I will come back and read this post as a starting point.)

  48. @enu, re: Lying gun owners. I appreciate your honest perspective & would feel safer at your house. (Although telling me that many gun owners would definitely lie about the fact they keep guns in their home when asked by the parent of a small child who wants to play at their house is not doing ANYTHING good for the image of gun owners! 😉 In the small community we’re in, everyone knows everyone’s business, so there are very effective ways of finding out who keeps guns. Do they have taxidermy? Do they hunt? Do they hang out at our local gun club? NRA bumper sticker? Work in law enforcement? Ever had their pet eaten by a wild animal? If yes to any of the above, they probably have a gun. (Or not, but those make an awfully good proxy.) Also, if someone were to be caught lying about it, they would pretty much face a social death in our town, where this is the kind of story that was in the local paper recently: “12-year-old boy shoots self while playing with friend’s father’s rifle.” I would also ask them via email, so I would have a record of their response either way. Which brings us back to the internet and back to my original question, which was NOT “what are the benefits of kids being online,” but was actually one nobody has directly answered yet: “What are the benefits to kids of being on social networking sites?”Folks here have already said they think teens in some high school circles need the internet to avoid becoming a social outcast (or not!), to beat geographic isolation, to do educational research, or to learn the tech trade. They seemed to be taking about the 15 & over set, and not about today’s social networking sites specifically. So here’s the question then – how about 12-year-olds & under? What, if any, is the benefit to kids in this age bracket of being on a site like MS & how can it possibly outweigh the risks of bullying, obesity, misspent youth, or worse?
    p.s. My opinion on this is starting to crystallize, so somebody please chime in with some positive stories about younger kids & social networking sites lest I conclude there are none!

  49. @hush I think I agree about younger, but where the line is is hard to say.Although I really do have a hard time understanding the sites for younger kids – get out in the dirt, already. I’m really not sure to handle the years from say 7-10.
    And yet…my nephew is 12 and has a Facebook account, IM, and plays WoW – the last with my husband (we live 4 hours apart; they have a monthly ‘date’). Actually all the kids in the family in his generation – from across Canada – have FB accounts and they talk on them a lot. It’s kind of cool, when the old auntie can be bothered to check in. 🙂
    Recently we were in his town and all went out for lunch and we asked him how he’s enjoying high school (his starts in grade 7). He said that he was a little freaked out by all the drugs (my 13 yr old niece had said the same), and the drug checks of lockers. We asked him why he chooses not to get into drugs (with trepidation), and he said it’s stupid. (Yay.)
    But he also said that he doesn’t want to mess up his life.
    And his life really does include a lot of pleasure at being connected online (along with sports, projects, etc.) He has had a difficult time growing up with a lot of instability. I’m kind of impressed at how those tools have helped out.
    I also remember being 12 and gaining the freedom to hang out with my friends at the mall, at the park, at the library. And we ran into situations there too – the flasher, temptation to shoplift, creepy college guy chatting us up. But taking those steps was really important.
    I just don’t see social media as fundamentally different – the HYPE is that online is teeming with predators. The reality is that there are predators in life and each situation requires knowledge and trusted adults to overcome… but online isn’t actually that different: it may be easier for a predator to make contact, but it is also harder to get physical access.
    So ultimately after all this typing… I think I will make the decision based on how my child is doing, what his own reasoned arguments are for this or that, and where things are when he’s old enough.
    I don’t know. I realize I’m a bit off centre in this regard but I think the media is actually fundamentally fine; it’s people that are always the problem at the heart of things… and a life without people in general really sucks.

  50. @hush I’m only a gun owner by proxy…. when Mr. enu and I started our lived together (long long ago) we agreed to share all our worldly possessions. I can’t even access them, as I have asked him to not divulge the combination to anyone, even me. I have no use for guns – I was made to take riflery in summer camp one year and that was more than enough!A lot of people own guns illegally. I expect they would be far more likely to lie about it than those who have gone through the surprisingly arduous (based on what you might think from reading the papers) process. I used to have an FID just so’s I could pick up a box of 22s if Mr. enu needed them, but then they changed the laws so that you needed a license just for ammo, and I started to work on that but eventually bailed as it was too time consuming (training classes, interview with the local police, documentation, etc.)
    Although I agree that the categories of people you list will likely have a gun – Mr. enu is a long time pistol league member – you’d probably be very surprised at all the just ordinary folks who turn out to have a gun.
    I think the primary reason for social networking sites (as opposed to some other Net resources) is… to socialize. Would I advocate use for under 12s, I don’t know. For one of my kids it is a really important link to the people she only sees during the summer, who come from across the globe, but with whom she shares many interests, including academic ones, so I wouldn’t say it is purely social, either. Much of what they do is pure silliness. Okay, but I confess, I spent a great deal of time as a youth making funny noises into my old panasonic tape recorder, playing numerology games with my name and the name of a guy I liked, and lining up plastic animals in rows….

  51. @Shandra & enu – You make some excellent points. It seems to me that for certain kids, like Shandra’s nephew who lacks stability, FB & the like are a comforting constant in his life. And for enu’s kid who uses the sites to stay in touch with international friends – wow, that’s definitely a cool thing. I’m starting to get on board with what’s good about the sites for certain teens, or for more mature preteens. It really depends on the situation doesn’t it? For ill or disfigured children who are socially isolated, I can see how social networking sites could be a real blessing.Maybe I’m perseverating too much on the “opportunity cost,” for lack of a better term, of younger kids/preteens spending their time on the sites instead of doing more physical play. Even if it’s walking the mall, where they could get into loads more trouble. There’s also the habit-forming aspect of internet use & gaming, generally, that also has me a little concerned about starting kids too young. Lots of food for thought…
    @Enu, I actually think the activities you described doing as a kid are healthy, and I would love it if, when my kid is older, he could have the freedom to do those kinds of random, wacky things. Imaginative play, where kids’ days aren’t so scheduled, and kids get to be bored sometimes & have to come up with self-directed play – I really feel this also a very good thing. Yes, my kid could definitely play at your house. 😉
    There’s a difference between the type of gun-owning family you are (gun not routinely used, locked in safe), versus the type of gun-owning families who live around me (one gun is on living room wall rack, another is on truck rack, etc.) My kids still get to play with their kids, but they’ll be playing at our house or other gun-free site (if they exist anymore). Oh, and I’m reminded of the chapter in “Freakonomics” where the authors assert that it’s actually more dangerous to let your child play at the house of a friend whose family has a swimming pool than it is to let your child play at the home of a gun-owning family. Statistically, I’m sure they’re correct, but unfortunately my fears don’t believe in stats! 😉

  52. @hush – your comment about your fears not believing in stats, is exactly my point yesterday about being scared of online predators. I know that the chances are miniscule – knowing that really doesn’t make me feel any better.

  53. @hush – funny you contrast it with swimming pools. That was one of the areas that I really was a hard*ss about. I would totally grill other parents about supervision around the pool, and would not allow child to go over if I found out that the parent was away from the pool at all while the kids were in. Then again, my child was in a pool accident when she was very little. We were just passing by and the other kids invited her in – there were no other adults around it was just one of those 18 inch deep snapset pools- she jumped in and for reasons never adequately explained to me her eyes rolled up in her head and she started to go under. I grabbed her and took her out and she quickly regained consciousness. But I was the only adult there and we got there last. The other kids ranged from 18 months to about 7. Scary!

  54. Internet Social Networks (ISNs) are a HUGE topic for me! Between my hubby and I we have 5 children. My DS-22, DD-20, his DD-16 and DS-12 and then we have a DD-3 together. My.Space was becoming popular when the oldest two lived with us and I signed up for it in order to be able to not be left out, but in reality I never hardly went there or observed other than over their shoulders. We have a relative in my kids’ family that was actually one of the 14 yr old horror stories of being enticed by an older man online and had lied her way into spending a weekend with him a couple hours away from here. The plan failed when father and step-father showed up to bring her home, but very scary about what could have happened all the same. So everyone learned about her and what not to do then (about 7 years ago).No last names online, no phone numbers given out in IMs, no street address or school names can be posted, or pm’d and if a photo has the school or city within it then pick another photo. (Mostly photos with team/city or school names.) Friends lists must have friends, not somebody who knows somebody that wants to see your stuff. Until you’re 18 years old your friends list has age considerations, such as anyone over 18 that is not related to you is not appropriate for a 12 yr old to have on their list.
    Biggest and most important of all is that there is no expectation of privacy. If you want access, we have access. We know that you change your mind and change passwords, but you also know that we understand enough about technology to use software that enables us to view any activity that you are involved with while using our computer as well as many activities on ISNs from alternate locations. We don’t plan on spying on you any more than we expect you to lie to us. If one thing happens, then the other might. It works both ways so this is tricky, but somewhat necessary because we are not the only ones parenting them and limits are often different between two households.
    There’s a basic rule around our house now that says that you don’t swear. The truth is that kids don’t swear in front of adults. If you go on an ISN and have any swears there then you’d better be prepared to say them to Daddy! If not, then remove them! Photos are a sore point between Daddy and I, as well as some of the public type of communication (status updates) that happen. I wish we could go back to the old days of passing notes in a classroom and maybe 4 of your best friends (max!) know what was in the note. These days you change your status instead and then your list of 279 friends know about your social ups and downs, ins and outs, and get that ultra personal look into your soul. Ugh!! Between that and the girls trying to best each other with captivating photos for the enjoyment of potential admirers or to show what a bad@$$ they are to intimidate other girls there are pages of photos available on any given kid’s profile.
    Yes, I’m on both ISN’s and have only recently become more interested in using FB. The two seem strikingly similar in their security features and it really does come down to the choices that you choose to activate or utilize. One gives you more opportunities to design ‘your space’ and the other allows for some separation of information that is different from the first, but it is ultimately up to the poster.
    Yes, keep the computer in open view. DO the POS (Parent Over Shoulder) and stop to look at what your child is viewing and then talk to them about it! As my older children have moved out the ISNs are a convenient way to touch base with them, have a little fun and see them interacting with their peers.
    Oh, and I’ve had the internet turn on me. Both times it was because I let personal information become public and became lax in thinking that the rest of the world would see through my rose colored glasses. In one instance I was parodied and in another I had someone contact me privately. Both were very unsettling to say the least and why I am more strict about what the kids do online. Our kids think that I’m a tyrant and totally over the top about internet safety but until they are 18 they will have to listen to me give them grief about it! Thanks for the topic Moxie!

  55. everyone looked surprised, they thought Cheap Air Jordans Man spotted belly 100,000 troops on the mountain, want to get 100,000 troops to achieve this goal, in the chaotic? Li a place on the planet, but, Wang Cheap Air Jordans ‘s require large out they were expecting. Cheap Air Jordans secretly smile, in fact, anxious to get these thousands of troops, and determined to win, but, with their understanding of the nature of some difference in terminology, in the final analysis, all aimed , requires that they willingly, not under the agreement in force. the crowd because Cheap Air Jordans does not show the strength of the people immediately believe the contrary, their eyes reveal the suspect is not difficult to imagine that there is not that a slave state, but the entire ? Li planet, nor is it an era, but for generations to come, because they experienced the pain of being a slave, the heart is extremely annoying that they are slaves, hate what they become slaves and aristocrats, like the wild days Sen positions so that the liberation of slaves in the Mountain Man belly is already very great, but they never thought to liberate all the slaves, Heaven has hundreds of thousands of troops were able to use Belly Man into fierce mountain terrain to reach the dragon the two countries do nothing, but he would not dare to attack a nearby town, and their shortage of troops, not to mention a country, of course, the whole? Li slaves on the planet that is more impossible, and would like to have not thought about. Cheap Air Jordans said management is now the world’s slaves, they understand what it means, that is, all countries with the world and against the nobility, on their belly Mountain Man this force, attack a town is hard, even as the capture of a town but also how, can be indifferent watching those noble slaves occupied the city, looked at them helplessly, of course, impossible, would discredit, this is all noble things, not that a state of things. easing their stress, wild days of storage Sen said: impressive, however

  56. Dude I hate mystery cnorainets! Ours are always in the back of the fridge and some of our plastic cnorainets aren’t see-through so it’s scary to open them.thanks for linking up (and for your sweet response above!).

  57. Parents, reading this book is the best gift you could give your clrdhien and yourself. While it gives practical and insightful ways to understand and parent your clrdhien, it is not about a technique. It is about understanding your heart and soul as a parent, and learning how to give that to your clrdhien. Milan and Kay do so by helping us examine the dynamics of our own upbringing so that we can make the changes in our relationship styles that create rewarding and healthy relationships with our kids. Read this book and see how much sense it makes! Larry Hamilton, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

  58. At the bottom teerhs a few check boxes, check off Desktop Mode, Near the top right teerhs a more options button, click it, and uncheck show icons, click ok, then ok again. Press play to start the music, and on the window, press Ctrl + Shift + K, to start the visualizations. To stop the visualization, press Ctrl + Shift + K again in . To change visualizations, just keep starting and stopping until you find one you prefer.

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