I recently set up a MySpace profile so I could participate in some fun family exchanges, as several of them are on MySpace. They’ve invited me to be in their “mob” and have “bought” me several times over on “Own Your Friends” application.
The problems started when one of my son’s friends was trash talking by changing the “status” of those friends you own. Under normal circumstances, I don’t mind a little trash talking. I figure they are exploring their own independence, and I usually don’t wrap myself up in feeling offended because who cares, really.
Well the heat turned up, and the trash talking went way beyond “Yo-Mama” jokes and right into obscene. This has carried on for a few weeks, and I finally had enough. While I’m all for kids exercising independence and having a voice, this was going a step too far.
So I called the Mom and told her that she may just want to take a peek at her son’s MySpace. I didn’t allude to the horrors of what was written – some of it was insults about me, my son, body parts, and such. I would just loved to been a fly on the wall to see her reading this material.
I think the problem is parents may not really know what’s going on with MySpace and other Internet sites. I think its important that if you know your child is on MySpace, that you set up your own profile, and see what’s happening for yourself. You’ll be able to see the types of conversations, their “friends” and more and can help guide them. There is just too much latitude on the Internet for a child, especially ages 12-18. I found that younger children tend to stick to their worlds of penguins and things, but when they near teenage years they begin expanding outward to the MySpace’s of the world.
But I do feel like a stooge, I’m not one for telling other parents things about their children. It’s a gray space. Just over the summer my son had a very unfortunate incidenct with a younger neighbor who was playing at my home. My son was in the wrong, and it all came out, parents confronted, it was pretty uncomfortable all around. And we’re not friends anymore. I wave when I go by for a walk, but that relationship has been severed for good. I do feel bad about that, and I think it was a scarring event for that neighbor’s child.
So, as we all struggle with the new boundaries of the Internet, stick with your gut. If you think it’s going to far, it probably is. And ask yourself, “Would You Want to Know?” I know I would.