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Wednesday, January 18, 2006

DC-area schools: Action on blogs

Facebook.com has been the main focus of schools' actions against student blogging, the Washington Post reports, but MySpace.com and Xanga.com have also gotten school officials' attention. So far, private schools in the Washington, D.C., area have been the most aggressive: Sidwell Friends School "prohibited students from using their school email addresses to register for access to Facebook"; the Barrie School "asked a student to leave over the misuse of a blog"; and, before the holidays, Sidwell, Georgetown Day School, and the Madeira School "wrote to parents to warn them" about Facebook. But area public schools are now joining ranks, with blog-focused Internet safety meetings for parents. Examples of blog posts schools want parents to know about, according to the Post: "an Alexandria girl with an abusive mother confides that she wants to have a baby, even though it would 'most likely make everything 5,000 times harder'; a girl from a Fairfax County school posts photos of herself in a bikini, inviting boys to comment." Page 3 of the Post's article looks at the attraction of these blogging sites for teenagers. Here's Sports Illustrated's "A Quick [2-pp] Guide to Facebook.com," as in "Sure, there is a lot of posturing on Facebook. It's the college bar scene [although there are high school Facebooks], and you want to send out the right vibe."

1 Comments:

Blogger NeverLandMall.com said...

I am a writing this as a concerned parent that has just discovered our children are in danger. I'd like to share what I have recently discovered about myspace.com the computer website where kids create their own "space" online. When it was brought to my attention about a year and a half to 2 years ago by my pre-teen girls, I was not concerned. I asked a lot of questions but was assured that it was very clean and well monitored just like their "xanga" websites. What I did not do was explore it first. It was not until about a month ago when my 16 year old step-daughter began dating much older boys and behaving oddly. I also noticed the girls (I have three) seemed to be taking a lot of pictures of themselves in a variety of outfits. Of course, all of the one's they showed me in the camera's were very clean. I decided to visit my teens "myspace" based on the suggestion of another concerned parent. What I found was down right shocking. The first thing that caught me by surprise was a picture of my 16 year old daughter coming out of the shower with just a towel on and plenty of cleavage showing. (Remember, when my kids got their "spaces" on the web they were 11, 13 & 14 Next would be the picture of the gun she held to her head with explicit captions underneath and it goes on from there. I was very taken back you can imagine. I continued down her page only to see more unreal pictures. The most shocking of all were the posts that people were leaving or "comments" as they call it about her pictures. Next to these comments show pics of the people leaving these comments. In addition to many, many young men (17-21) were 40+ men discussing what they wanted to do to my daughter in great detail. When I asked her about this, she claimed she wanted the comments because it makes you "popular" in the myspace community. The more comments & the more "friends" the better. She refused to block the older offensive men from commenting due to this popularity. In several posts she was answering other teens questions like where do you go to school and where do you hang out. This is out there for everybody to see. So not only did the young guys see this, the older guys were as well. Not to mention there is no way of knowing if these "young" guys are really the same as what they say they are. Anyone can sign up. All you have to do is say you are 14. No parents permission is required and no verification is asked for other than your birthday. Any teen can do the math and make up the "appropriate" birthday to make them at least 14. Again, 2 of my girls were under 14 when they signed up for this. The next thing I did was click on her "friends" list and read their posts, comments, profiles etc. The use of sex and profanity was unbelievable. I could not repeat the explicit words for what they wanted or were doing to each other on line sexually. I also saw many nude pictures. What is the most upsetting about ALL of this is that I actually contacted Myspace.com. I informed them of what I saw (yes I saved all the e-mails) and what I was concerned about. I asked them to delete my daughters "space" as I could not due to the fact that it was password protected. They refused and told me I should monitor my children better if I don't like what they are doing. It is now a fact that children have access to the internet just about everywhere, friends, the library, internet cafe's and even school. My youngest visited myspace more than once at school on "free time". She did inform me today that her teacher announced it was no longer permitted. The customer service department at myspace refused my request twice and told me they would only remove it if I could prove she broke their terms of service. I told them right off the bat she was lying about her age and that should be enough to cancel her account. Again, they refused and would not help.
I am pleading that we make this myspace.com a newsworthy matter so that ALL parents can be made aware of the dangers their children are being exposed to everyday.

2:27 AM  

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