29 October 2006

What to do if your teenager wants to meet a MySpace friend IRL? Talk amongst yourselves.

My kids are out of MySpace range for the moment (they're 7 and 3), but the time will come. Oh, yes. It will come. In ten years, it probably won't be MySpace...by then I imagine the Internet will be much more integrated into the social lives of teenagers. But for now, what does one do when the kid wants to meet a MySpace "friend" in real life?

Jay Allen has this to say on the topic. Do you have experience to share?

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Here is what I posted to Jay's blog:

My girlfriend with daughters 11 and 13 ran into something similar but more insidious recently. The 13 year old has a deviantArt account (similar to MySpace but more arty). She met what seemed to be a teenage boy, who complimented her art, courted her online over a few months, sent photos and other seeminly identifying information, and eventually indicated a desire to meet in the "I'm coming to town all the way from Canada to your CA city and let's hang out" kind of way. My friend (the mommy) is a major internet guru. She researched and researched as much as she could about this person. During the waiting to find out if permission would be given for a meet, this person started to try to turn the teen away from her family in various ways.

Mommy eventually determined the person was not a teenage boy.

The end game, eventually the person admitted to be an older (30s) man. Then they turned around and say they were an older 30s woman - which freaked teenage girl out even more and she has since become much more circumspect about meeting people online.

Mommy is currently relieved that the first encouter when this way because the lesson was taught first-hand by a creep with no need for Mommy to become the bad guy, but still . . . eeeewwww!

My point, it is very important that your children know what they may not get what they think their going to when meeting someone they really have never seen. They should know from school gossip, people can be big 'ole liars. There is no way safely let them meet this person the first time without you.

I agree with your tactics.

Let us know how it goes.

This makes me scared for my 17 month old. Another 14 or 15 years and i'll have to deal with that - that doesn't sound like fun!

I'd definitely be scared. I didn't know a thing about MySpace, so I actually signed up for a MySpace account as a test, and the results were funny enough that I decided to post them on my silly, appropriate for all ages, humor site (www.saynotocrack.com - Oct 29th's post).

While funny from an outsider's perspective, I imagine it's not as funny when you're a parent with kids in that age group (mine is < 2, so i don't have to worry much yet). Almost all the people who wanted to be my friend either wanted to something far more than friendship, or wanted to market something to me. In 10-15 years, I'm going to be watching mine like a hawk.

f they really want to meet someone, I'd let them meet them in some public place, like a mall or a restaurant.

But then, I was online in the old days of BBSes. My parents didn't let me until I was 12 (my brothers and sisters already did). After that, I did meet people at board get togethers at popular restaurants, and even went to some private parties. (I have no idea how I got away with that, but it was definately not the best choice ever). Luckily, I was fine.

But I don't see anything wrong with meeting up somewhere public.

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