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In July 2007, MySpace removed over 29,000 convicted sex offenders from its service, and these were just the ones they could identify. Who knows how many are still online using fake names. If your child has a MySpace account or just visits any MySpace pages, he or she may be coming face to face with a predator.
Banning your child from MySpace is not enough, since potential predators can be anywhere online. The following advice will go a long way toward keeping your child safe from this kind of threat.
- Talk with your child about the potential dangers of online child predators.
- Spend time together when your child is online to become familiar with your child’s online habits.
- Arrange the computers in your home so that the screen is visible to other members of the family.
- Encourage your child to tell you if he or she is ever made uncomfortable or scared by something experienced online.
Make sure you have the user names, passwords, and other information needed to review any of your child’s online activities.
- Occasionally review your child’s online activities, including the contents of any online accounts.
- Occasionally review your child’s use of offline communications such as telephones, cell phones, and regular mail.
- Make sure your child understands your family’s rules for being online, and that the rules apply at home and away from home.
- Closely supervise any risky online activities such as chat rooms, file sharing, and webcams.
- Immediately report suspected child predators to the appropriate law enforcement organization.
Just remember, going online does not have to be scary for you or your child. With just a little bit of care and common sense, you can easily keep predators away from your child.
Check out the Parenting and the Internet podcast for more about the book and the author.