By now, even parents who have never logged onto a computer in their lives have heard of social networking sites like Facebook, My Space, Bebo etc – sites where kids (and sometimes parents) go to share messages, information about themselves, pictures etc. There is a lot of noise coming out of the US about how sites like these are a haven for sexual predators who “groom” our children online. Hands up if you are a parent whose stomach dropped when you young teen asked could they set up a My Space page? Or worse still, you found out they already had one! If you have not had this pleasure yet, don’t worry, it will inevitably come from which time there will a constant source of angst from the worry over who they are chatting with all hours into the night.
I like the way one mum friend of mine handled the moment when her 14 year-old daughter (thankfully) asked permission to set up a profile on My Space. She replied that, yes she could, provided the mother had the log-in information and that the daughter knew she would log-in from time to time to see who she was friends with/chatting to/sharing comments with. This situation was agreed upon and so now the mother can see for herself that nothing untoward is going on with her daughter online. (She also discovered that several of her friends’ children had pages unbeknownst to their mothers!)
Here are a couple more tips for regaining a little control over their online socialising:
- Inform them of the dangers of predators online and keep talking with them about this, asking regular questions about who they are chatting with and whether they have had any weird or unwanted contact from anyone.
- Join up on Facebook or create a My Space page yourself and befriend them! It gives you the chance to keep track of their friends and messages and, who knows, they might secretly think you are pretty cool for doing this?
- Don’t leave computers in your teens bedroom. Bring it out to a more central area like an office or the family room. You can see how much time they are spending online and they are probably much less likely to be doing anything inappropriate with a PIR! (See below for explanation.)
Lastly, here is a list of some of the red-flag lingo your kids may be using online… it was current last time I checked.
ASL – Age/Sex/Location
KOTL – Kiss on the lips
LMIRL – Let’s meet in real life
MorF – Male or Female
PIR – Parent in room
POS – Parent over shoulder
SorG – Straight or Gay
TDTM – Talk dirty to me
WYCM – Will you call me
So parents – if you spot any of the above chat coming from, or being sent to your teen, you might want to pull your sofa over just a little closer to that computer to be a POS rather than just a PIR!
Michelle of blog site, Australian Mothers Online, is a happily-married mother of two wonderful boys, ages 3 & 1, and is filled with inspiration now that she has kicked off her great site site and is able to mesh her love for her children, her love for writing and her experiences in finance and parenting to hopefully create something interesting at least… brilliant at best! Michelle is valued member of our 'sassy 16' at sassymamas, where women of influence, blogfuence & momfluence, work & play!
Michelle has written a great piece entitle 'Predatory Creatures of Habit' which no parent should miss! Visit Michelle's site to view this piece! Thanks for Guest Posting whilst I am in hospital, Michelle! www.australianmothersonline.com.au