Monitor Your Child

After shouting the praises from the rooftops about FaceBook I feel like I'm in great danger of becoming a hypocrite. You see my 11 year old daughter has now discovered social networking websites and I'm worried.

It doesn't matter what websites I tell her are safe to go on, I know for a fact that she's going to want to go on the one that her friends are on. In our neck of the woods that means only one thing, Bebo. Bebo is yet another of the many social networking websites that have cropped up in recent years, from what I can gather though this one seems to be aimed firmly at children. There is nothing wrong with that in principal, a safe area for children to have their own we pages and keep up with their friends online would be great. The problem I have is that nothing stays safe for very long.

Unfortunately for my daughter I been around the internet from day one, there is very little I don't know about the dangers that lurk out there. Perhaps more importantly I'm also aware of just how much people tend to give away about themselves online. When we first discussed Bebo I explained in great detail about how she should only link to people she knows (No matter how much she argued, she doesn't actually know Hannah Montana!) and that she's not to go general friend surfing. If everyone stuck to this policy then Bebo would be great place, unfortunately it seems that most parents either aren't aware or don't care. Any parent that lets their 9, 10, 11 year old daughter use the username SexyBody97 etc needs locking up.

As part of one of my random inspections (I'm a mean dad!) I took a look around some of my daughter's friend's pages to see what was going on. It took me 5 minutes to find suggestive and out right sexual content from boys ages 15-16 towards girls of 11 and younger. This can only happen if they have public profiles or have invited them as friends. Because my daughter is friends with these other girls she can read all this. There's then the danger that she feels like she's being held back because she's got parents that care about her. To cut a long story I now check up on her when she's Beboing it. Every 10 minutes I'll just have a glance over her shoulder and see what she is up to and what she's looking at. It's a very fine balancing act between knowing what your child is doing and letting them grow up. I know by banning websites that it will bring more trouble in the future, I like the idea of just keeping an eye on her, to monitor and talk to her! I just hope I've got the balance right!