Dave, my daughter 15 spends a lot of time on my space. I have told her to make sure i always have her password and of course she will tell me and then change it. I want to know what is going on. Will you please help me before some creep gets her? I am a single mom and it would just kill me if anything happened to her. I know she likes my space and i really don’t wont to take it away. I just want to keep track of her. I believe her name on my space is [identity masked]. Will you check it out for me and let me know? Most appreciated.
As I have in the past, I turned to my colleague Kevin Farnham, author of the book MySpace Safety: 51 Tips for Teens and Parents, for his advice. Here’s what he said:
It’s natural for parents to want to know what’s going on in their teen’s MySpace world. But what’s the best way to do this? You ask your teen to provide you with the password to her MySpace account. She obliges, but then she feels like her MySpace account is no longer really her own. One reaction is to change the password to lock you out. Another common reaction is to create a secret MySpace account, while continuing to maintain the “official” account for viewing by parents.
Given the login email and password to your teen’s MySpace account, you have the capability to sign in, change settings, grant or deny friend requests, delete friends, delete comments, upload or delete pictures, read private emails, etc. This is really much more than you need to effectively monitor your teen’s MySpace activity. If you request all of this, your teen will likely feel like you don’t trust them to make any decision on their own. This isn’t what you’re seeking. You just want to be sure that she’s safe, that nothing she’s posting invites trouble.
The best way for a parent to keep tabs on a teen’s use of MySpace is for the parent to get their own MySpace account and become their teen’s MySpace friend. When you do this, you’re able to view everything that is publicly available on your teen’s MySpace site, even if your teen has her account set to “private” (recommended to prevent unwanted contact from strangers). Since the site consists of information she feels comfortable broadcasting online to others, there’s no reason she should object to you seeing her site as well. But, importantly, she still maintains control of her own account, and responds to all friend requests, comment postings, etc.
As parents, we want our teens to learn how to interact with the world at large in a responsible manner. To do this, teens need freedom. MySpace is a fun place, full of jokes and laughter and teenage posing. But potential dangers do lurk, and teens are frequently unaware of risk. By having your own MySpace account and being your teen’s MySpace friend, you can have an effective presence in your teen’s virtual world. If you see anything that looks awry, such as a new friend whose MySpace page looks a bit shady, you can bring that up in conversation and discuss why you don’t approve of contact with that particular person.
Most importantly, by creating your own MySpace account and “friending” your teen, you establish your desire to be a part of this new “social networking” world, which has become so fundamental a means of interaction for today’s teens and young adults. Wherever they go, as they grow into adulthood, you’ll be there for them.