Should You Allow Your Teens to Have MySpace Accounts

MySpace is huge, especially with teens right now. It's an easy way for them to share the events of their lives with their friends, make new friends and check out what others are doing. It's fun. But there's also the darker side of MySpace. You hear news stories of pedophiles and predators, of teens posting inappropriate photos. It can be quite worrying.

If your teens want MySpace accounts, you should set up some safety rules. There's nothing inherently dangerous, but certain information can put your teen at somewhat more risk. The first rule I would recommend is to have your teen set his or her account's privacy settings. You can require that a person know your teen's email address or last name before they can add themselves as a friend. The full profile can also be limited to friends only, so that it is much harder for strangers to contact your teen.

Other rules I would recommend simply as general internet safety rules, applying to other sites as well as MySpace. No posting of contact information. No posting pictures without parental approval. You should also discuss what kinds of websites and MySpace pages your teen is not allowed to visit. To enforce this rule, I recommend that any internet connected computer be in an area accessible to the entire family.

It's not quite as peaceful for doing homework, but it does allow you to know what your teen is looking at without having to knock on the bedroom door. I would also suggest creating your own MySpace page and being added to the list of your teen's friends. This can help you to become familiar with MySpace and to keep an eye on what your teen is doing there. Do discuss the dangers with your teen. They may or may not be aware already of the dangers, but your job as a parent is to ensure that they have the knowledge to protect themselves. Talk about potential problems and what to do about them.

Tell your teen you expect to be told about anyone who tries anything inappropriate, whether it's trying too hard to find out where he or she lives, bullying or sexual advances. There are ways to report problems to MySpace or even to the authorities if things go too far. By understanding what your teen is doing on MySpace you stand a much better chance of protecting him or her from the potential hazards. You might also get some great insights into what he or she really thinks. You may even enjoy MySpace for its own sake.

Stephanie Foster publishes a free newsletter for at home parents. She also gives parenting tips at


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