Teens and Blogs: A Public Service Announcement on Internet Safety

I learned in November 2005 that a Roman Catholic high school in Sparta had ordered its students to delete personal blogs from the Internet in order to protect them from cyberpredators. Which leads me to a critical question: how can you keep your child safe online?

The Internet serves as a “gateway” for the adult predator to reach your child. Parents must recognise the importance of keeping a closer eye on their children’s online activities. Websites such as xanga, myspace, and livejournal, in my opinion, make it far too easy for sexual predators to prey on our children.

Children are vulnerable, and they are unaware that anyone can read their blog entries and, more than likely, is doing so. My two children have blogs, but they are both moderated by my husband and me. As a parent of two teenagers, I believe it is our responsibility as parents to educate our children about the dangers of the internet.

Because of the easy access to a child’s world, children’s blogs are a pedophile’s playground. We can help our children stay safe while using a blog as parents. Visit http://BlogSafety.com and http://SafeTeens.com for more information on blogging safety.

In regards to hi5: I’ve received several invitations from hi5, but I didn’t sign up until November 2005. It wasn’t long before I decided to deactivate my account. Before registering, I should have read the privacy policy.

It states that hi5 collects personal information from you when you register, use hi5, or visit hi5 pages or the pages of certain hi5 partners. hi5 may combine data we already have about you with data we get from business partners or other companies. You are not anonymous to us once you register with hi5 and sign in to our services. hi5 keeps track of your interactions with us as well as some of our business partners. Hi5 receives and records information from your browser in our server logs automatically.

They have spyware, in a nutshell.

Your Hotmail or Yahoo address lists and contacts are collected by Hi5. When you register, an e-mail is sent to all of the people in your address book. This e-mail has been sent without your consent.

Your hotmail and yahoo passwords are also requested by the website. I never gave out my password because I was not that trusting. Hi5, on the other hand, was able to collect my information and contact those in my address book. Using the instructions in their help file, I was finally able to delete my account.

Hi5 is, in my opinion, worse than xanga and myspace.

I strongly advise all parents whose children have hi5 accounts to log in and delete their children’s accounts.

These websites reveal far too much personal information, making them a haven for sexual predators. Parents must become more aware of their children’s needs.

Websites like hi5, MySpace, Xanga, DeadJournal, Blurty, and others that encourage children to post photos and personal information concern me greatly.

If your child uses the computer and you haven’t been watching what they’re doing, I strongly advise you to do so.

A report on Dateline Friday, Jan. 27, at 9 p.m. by Rob Stafford, an NBC News Correspondent, explains why parents should be concerned about MySpace. If you haven’t seen this report yet, I recommend that you go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11064451/.

It’s something you owe to your children.

Which leads me to my next point of concern: the Internet is a scary place, full of strange people. I believe that posting your child’s picture on the internet puts them in danger.

Did you know that your personal details, such as your home phone number and address, are easily accessible on the internet?

If that isn’t enough to make you think twice about posting your child’s picture on the internet, consider that photos can now be digitally altered and posted on porn sites.

Every week, more than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the internet, according to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

“The demand for pornographic images of babies and toddlers on the internet is soaring,” says Donna Rice Hughes of http://Protectkids.com. (Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe, March 2003, Prof. Max Taylor). More babies and toddlers are being exposed on the internet, and the abuse is increasing. Images are now even more torturous and sadistic than before.
Children on pornography sites are typically between the ages of 6 and 12, but the profile is changing (Prof. Max Taylor, Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe, March 2003).
According to the US Customs Service, there are more than 100,000 websites that offer child pornography, which is illegal all over the world. “Red Herring Magazine, January 18, 2002)”

I’m not paranoid, but I don’t post pictures of my children on the internet, and I believe you shouldn’t either. We are all proud of our adorable children. Please, parents, use some common sense. Maintain your child’s safety and keep him or her away from child predators. http://members.tripod.com/Seadooer/sayno-contests.html is a good place to start.

Say no to children’s pictures on the internet, and for the love of God, keep an eye on your child’s online activity. Love and protect our children because they are our most valuable asset.

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