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Teens And Blogs - Internet Safety Wake-Up Call

In November of 2005, I read that a Roman Catholic high school in Sparta had ordered its students to remove personal blogs from the Internet, in the name of protecting them from cyberpredators. Which brings me to an important question, just how can you keep your child safe online? The Internet is a "gateway" which leads the adult predator to your child. Parents need to recognize the need to better monitor their children’s online activity. I believe that websites like xanga, myspace, and livejournal, make it all too easy for sexual predators to prey on our children. Children are vulnerable and they don’t realize that anyone can and most likely is reading their blog entries. Both my children have blogs, however they are under moderation by both my husband and I.

Frankly, as a parent of two teenagers I believe that it is up to us as parents to educate our children about the online dangers. Children's blogs are a pedophile’s playground, because of the easy ability to look into a child’s world. As parents we can help our children stay safe while using a blog. For information about blogging safety please visit http://BlogSafety.com and http://SafeTeens.

com Regarding sites like hi5: I've received several invitations from hi5, but I never signed up until November 2005. It wasn’t long before I was removing my account. I should have read the privacy policy before I registered. It reads: hi5 collects personal information when you register, when you use hi5, when you visit hi5 pages or the pages of certain hi5 partners. hi5 may combine information about you that we have with information we obtain from business partners or other companies. Once you register with hi5 and sign in to our services, you are not anonymous to us. hi5 collects information about your transactions with us and with some of our business partners. hi5 automatically receives and records information on our server logs from your browser. Basically, they have spyware. Hi5 collects your Hotmail or yahoo address lists and contacts.

Once you register there is an e-mail that is sent to everyone in your address book. This e-mail is sent without your permission. The website also requests, your hotmail and yahoo password. I never gave my password, I was not that gullible. However hi5 was still able to gather my information and contact those listed in my address book. I finally was able to delete my account, through the instructions in their help file. In my opinion, hi5 is even worse than xanga and myspace. I encourage all parents, whose children have an account on hi5, to log into hi5 and delete their children’s account. Too much personal information is being revealed on these websites, making it a haven for sexual predators. Parents need to wake up.

I for one, am very concerned with websites like hi5, MySpace, Xanga, DeadJournal, Blurty, etc that encourage children to post their photos and personal information. I strongly suggest that if your child uses the computer and you have not been monitoring their activity, it is time that you found out just what they are doing. A report aired Dateline Friday, Jan. 27, at 9 p. by Rob Stafford, a Correspondent of NBC News, tells parents why they should mind MySpace. If you have not seen this report, I suggest you take a moment to view it at: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11064451/ You owe it to your children.

Which brings me to my next concern, the Internet is a scary place, filled with all kind of strange people. I believe that when you post your child’s picture on the net, you put them at risk. Did you know that your personal information, such as your home phone number and address can easily be found on the internet? If this isn’t one reason to make you reconsider posting your child’s picture on the internet, how about that in this day and age, photos can be digitally altered and appear on porn sites. According to the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children more than 20,000 images of child pornography are posted on the internet every week. Donna Rice Hughes of http://Protectkids.com states, “… the demand for pornographic images of babies and toddlers on the internet is soaring.” (Prof. Max Taylor, Combating Paedophile Information Networks in Europe, March 2003). More babies and toddlers are appearing on the net and the abuse is getting worse.


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