"It's just until my stinkin' computer is fixed! I can't live without MySpace!"
At the risk of preaching to the choir, I want to point out how important it is to know who your children or grandchildren are socially networking with daily and in what media they are choosing to mingle. On cell phones, chat rooms, MySpace, Facebook, Skype or a number of other popular sites, kids are typing/texting their hearts out at a mind boggling rate.
Alexa, a website traffic tracking company, puts Facebook at #5 and MySpace at #7 in overall website traffic rankings. The two sites have enough members when combined to be the third largest country on the planet. That's right...China, India and then Facebook/MySpace. Needless to say, there are a lot of people...not all innocent kids by far mind you...interacting on the internet.
At first, I was going to be a hard-line antagonist of what my wife refers to as 'the dark side.' Protect the sanctity of my home. Futile. It's the equivalent of my parents trying to stop me when I was a teenager from listening to 'that hippie music' or letting my hair grow out a bit...Peter Brady style...
I guess, as parents, there are times we have to compromise with what our kids want to do, as long as certain principles are maintained. After all...'kids will be kids.' But there are a lot of bad, ugly things lurking around out on the web, right? Yes, but...
Okay! My solution to this particular problem was simple. First, education on all the popular social websites and second, play the game. The results have been very surprising. Side note: It is both easy and inexpensive to both keep your computer from surfing in naughty waters and know exactly where it has been surfing. If you want to be really intrusive, key loggers and screen shot programs are also very easy to obtain and you'll see EXACTLY what's being viewed, read and typed on your computer of installation. Personally, I think the risk of alienation by not showing some trust outweighs the return here...but hey, that's for you to decide. Sometimes, drastic measures are required. A quick Google search for 'website content filter' or 'spyware' will provide a plethora of options.
What I have discovered is an unexpected benefit from playing the game. I opened a MySpace under the premise with my daughter, 'you have one...I have one...and we will be friends.' A very short time later, her friends started inviting me to be their friends, then kids from church, then their friends and now I have well over 250 friends...mostly young people. This really ticks her off, but that wasn't the goal. I just wanted to monitor her activity from a comfortable distance. So, I put Jesus all over my profile page (keep up... remember, education) and made it my personal testimony site. I also use it to send quick words of encouragement to a young person if I know they are battling spiritually or even just to say 'hi.' (I might add it's a great way to share picture of the baby too).
In a nutshell, adults need to be internet savvy...especially if you have kids. Know the game. Know your adversary. Satan is using the internet. As Christians, we need to battle him wherever he's working. It's the best defense short of total lock down. But, come on... we're all smarter than any problem our kids might get into...right?
Now if I can figure out how to keep that long-haired boy from calling my daughter... wanting to go to church with us...wait...never mind.