What Parents Need to Know About MySpace.com
- Thursday, June 28, 2007
Don’t panic. If you discover something troubling on your kids’ MySpace pages, don’t just react in anger right away. Take time to pray before discussing it with them. Be quick to handle situations that threaten your kids’ physical or emotional safety. But be patient about situations that are less dire, and be gentle when talking to your kids about changing something on their pages that isn’t your personal preference, but isn’t necessarily wrong. If you see that your kids have posted information about themselves that isn’t true, remember that teens often say what they think other kids want to hear, and use your discovery as an opportunity to talk with your kids about the importance of honesty. Listen carefully to them and discern what motivated them to post the information they posted on their pages. Then pray about how best to reach out to them to help meet their needs for validation and affirmation. Recognize that MySpace doesn’t create problems; it simply reveals them. Be grateful that MySpace has revealed issues that need addressing in your kids’ lives, so that you don’t have to guess about how you can help them. Use the information you’ve gained from your kids’ MySpace pages to create a clear plan to teach your kids and help meet the needs you now know that they have.
Don’t blame. Accept that you, as your kids’ parent, are ultimately responsible for raising them well. Know that if you neglect that responsibility and your kids turn to media such as the Internet or TV in your absence, you shouldn’t blame the media for how it has influenced your kids. Don’t leave your kids feeling abandoned and trying to fulfill needs through the media that should really be filled through a relationship with you. Step up to the plate to be the powerful and positive influence that God wants you to be in your kids’ lives. Make your kids a top priority in your life. Always know where they are, who they’re with, what they’re doing, and why. Make whatever sacrifices are necessary to devote significant time and energy to your relationships with your kids; stay closely connected to them and actively involved in their lives. Use whatever mistakes they make online as opportunities to teach them truths of the faith and encourage them to grow closer to Christ. Keep in mind that the temptations your kids face online vary according to their gender: daughters are especially vulnerable to seductive talk, while sons are especially vulnerable to seductive pictures and videos. Be sensitive to that and establish the kind of close relationship with your kids that will allow you to discuss tough issues with them openly and honestly. Never be afraid to bring up sensitive subjects with your kids; realize that they freely discuss such subjects online. Give your kids the attention they crave so they won’t go looking for it from unhealthy sources.
Change settings. Know that you can help protect your kids a lot by simply having them set their profiles to “private” so only their friends can see them. Also consider having your kids change their privacy and profile settings to add more safe boundaries.
Work with your kids to delete whatever is troubling you. Talk with your kids about why you’d like them to delete certain information, images, online friends, or groups from their MySpace pages. Don’t just demand that they remove it; help them understand the reasons why, and work together to make changes to their pages. Remember that this approach will help them build the critical thinking skills they’ll need to make wise decisions online after they grow up and leave your house.
Use Internet filters. Install a software package that will filter the types of Internet content your kids can access and help you monitor their activities online.
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