Kudos to Craig Nansen of edTechInsider for writing a great article on Internet safety and providing some wonderful links listed below. You will need these as you address growing parent panic over Myspace!
What do we tell parents?
This is what I tell parents when I get the increasingly frequent phone calls or parking lot conversations.
Myspace and Xanga are not inherently evil just as books or computers or paper aren't. It is not the medium that is the problem but what is done with it.People who want to shut down myspace were the book burners of the Dark Ages. It is not the communication medium it is the CONTENT!
When I was growing up the issue was "the mall." Kids were getting 'snatched' from "the mall." What a bad thing "the mall" was.
It wasn't the mall that was bad, it was the fact that kids were hanging out at the Mall unsupervised. Neither is Myspace or Xanga inherently evil.
The fact that parents allow their kids to have accounts without providing any oversight -- that is the problem. Go to myspace or Xanga and search for your child. Ask them to show you what they are doing. Ask them who the friends are linked to their accounts and find out about them.
Predators lurk wherever kids congregate. Parents who love their children supervise their children.
Excerpted from my coolcatkid blog
Those producing innappropriate content will always flock to places that are not policed and that parents don't supervise properly. Yet another reason for parents to accept change and live with it!
Discuss myspace and xanga openly. Block it at school so they don't waste valuable class time with a growing addicition for many teens. Educate teens and preteens about privacy. You can use some of these great resources below including a lesson plan for sixth graders.
And give them an outlet for their growing myspace fever by allowing them to wiki and blog. It helps alleviate their desire to use social software by giving them a social way to be educated!
Great Internet Safety Resources
Playing it Safe
A webquest about Internet Safety for 6th Grade Computer Literacy
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use
FBI Publications - A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety
The Police Notebook - Kid Safety on the Internet
KidsCom - Tips for Internet Safety and good manners!
Don't be afraid of touchy issues. Show clear headed, solid analysis and you will continue to earn the respect of those who look to you to be the expert.
Knee jerk sensationalism gets old -- we were all there for Y2K!