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Archive for January, 2011

Sharon’s Blog : Concerns about Social Media & Our Children

Posted by Sharon O'Donnell on 2011/01/04 14:20:48

Facebook, Texting, Twitter . . . it’s a whole new world of communication technology out there, and it is becoming second nature to our children, whereas it’s still sort of a foreign language to a lot of us parents. Personally, I long for the simple days when the phone on the wall would ring, and the kid on the other end would say, “Hi Mrs. O’Donnell, Could I speak to Billy please?”  No, it was not as convenient or as cool, but I knew who my son was talking to and his friends were familiar with me. That was 6 or 7 years ago, though. Although my blog posts are usually pretty light-hearted, allow me, if you will, to post some serious and important information for parents and teens in this blog post.

Sure, I have a Facebook page, can do some basic texting, and I have even received Tweets before (son-related of course from my son’s baseball team).  Still as parents, we are not as aware of the potential dangers as we should be. This was brought to my attention when a friend of mine expressed concern that teens are accepting friend requests on Facebook without making sure they really know the person requesting to be friends. This opens the door to all kinds of problems, including invasion of privacy that can lead to stalking by sexual offenders as well as falling victim to fake Facebook pages and fake ‘friends’ posing to be someone they are not. More about that is in this link:

http://techcrunch.com/2009/02/08/wake-up-call-facebook-isnt-a-safe-haven/

This article examines the safety pitfalls of Facebook and other social networks. A quote: “But the reality is that no matter what these social networks do, they’ll never have the technology or the manpower to stop every threat. Which is why they need to stop pretending that they’re safe. Facebook’s (and MySpace’s) goal is to connect as many people as possible, and the sad truth is that many people are very naive when it comes to online safety.”

This article also has a link to another article about a suicide instigated by a fake friend on MySpace several years ago. Heartbreaking. Kids and teens are so trusting, and I can easily see them believing something they shouldn’t.

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/27/us/27myspace.html?_r=1

My friend, the mother of 3 teens, became curious and actually created a fake  page for someone and sent friend requests out to see what would happen. She used a name that was similar to the name of someone most of these teens knew; she did this because her own teens sometimes would friend people, saying, “I thought I’d already friended him.”  This made her wonder how many other teens would friend someone immediately without really looking into it. Within a day, the fake profile had 20 friends and their personal information. After she had proven the legitimacy of this ‘friending’ problem, she deleted the profile. This definitely gives us food for thought.

Another article about a fake profile and tragic results:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1282157/Facebook-grooming-How-pervert-postman-used-site-groom-hundreds-children.html