Does your child have a MySpace page?

Myspace is a popular social networking site used by teenagers, adolescents, and young adults to interact and form relationships. Users sign up for a free account, and can then customize a homepage with pictures, graphics, music, and personal details. They can then form a network of online friends – some of whom they may know in real life, but most of whom they’ve only met online.

If your teen uses the internet regularly, chances are they have a Myspace page. If they do, it should be a family rule that you have knowledge of their username and password at all times in order for them to maintain internet privileges. This is by far the safest way to go, as you can randomly check in to be sure that the content of their page is acceptable and protects their privacy. Remind them of your household rules regarding privacy, but allow them to maintain their private space as long as the content is acceptable. Set guidelines about what information is disclosed, and remind them of the dangers of arranging personal meetings or phone calls.

If you feel that your child may be lying to you about having a Myspace page, it may be time to do some digging in order to find out why. You can create your own account on the website, and then search by username (try the first half of their email address), location,school, or age. This may help you to find the page that your child thinks is carefully hidden. If you do decide to do this, be prepared for anything that you may find – after all, your teen thinks you’ll never find this page. If you decide you want the page removed, first speak with your child and ask them to remove it yourself. If they refuse, you also have the option to go through Myspace and have them remove the content.

Before you do so, however, take the time to look the page over and learn about your child. Are they lying about their age or posting provocative pictures? If so, you may need to revisit internet safety rules in your household. Remind them of the dangers of posting personal information online. Discuss sexual predators with them, and be sure that they realize that they are putting themselves at risk. If need be, disconnect or block the internet until you’re sure that you can trust them to use it safely. An angry teen is better than a victimized one, after all.