Sunday, 01 February 2009 15:27
By FLOREE WILLIAMS
You are from a simpler time aren't you? When cameras used film and social networking meant going to a school dance. In terms of being on the cutting edge, your kids are a few steps ahead of you, aren't they?
You hesitate to ask what Lmao and Rofl mean when you peep over their shoulder on the computer.
It's amusing to be clueless about certain things, yet dangerous to turn a blind eye to other details. You may, at some point, have heard your tween or teen talk about their Myspace profile or Facebook page.
These are very popular social networking sites where you share your personal information and photos with friends, chat and connect.
You may have seen one of numerous investigative reports on TV delving into the dangers of these sites to American teens and shrugged it off.
But do not be fooled, as some of these same dangers apply to us in Antigua.
As a parent, you should be aware of your child's online activity. It would be most embarrassing to have a co-worker or friend report your child's online behaviour to you. As I peruse Facebook, I could easily find you more than one Antiguan teenage girl with an album of pictures posing provocatively in the surf of one of our fine beaches, coupled with photo comments from boys and men of all ages. I can find you a 13-year-boy dressed in gang colours, parading all the appropriate symbols and language to suit the lifestyle.
Yes, believe it or not, I could be talking about your little precious angel. Now that you are aware, educate yourself so that you can protect your children from themselves.
Having a profile online is not a bad thing, as long as they do it safely, and free from the peer pressure of seeming cool.
• If your tween/teen has a digital camera/webcam, review the photos with them. See the types of pictures they take and speak to them about
ones that are inappropriate.
• Ask your children to see their friends' list. Make sure that there are no "friends" that are way outside their age bracket (you can always click on friend and view the appropriate details). This could be a warning sign of a negative influence.
• Review the account and privacy settings on your child's page. Make sure that it is accessible only by friends, and closed to public viewing.
This will restrict strangers from accessing your child's information.
• Check back every few months to ensure that nothing has changed.
These sites often make changes, and your child is also likely to have added more friends.
These simple methods will help you to monitor your child's virtual life, yet in a way that shows trust and love.