A Window Into Their Worlds

With so much negative attention given to what teens do wrong on social networking sites, I wanted to post something sort of positive today. Teens are expressing themselves and sharing their lives online. If parents are able to either negotiate being able to check out a teen’s profile or even if you’re doing it on the down low, being able to see and read what they’re thinking and feeling, can only help you get to know them better. Suddenly the sullen teen sitting in the car silently, giving you one word answers to your questions, is a three dimensional thinking, feeling person after spending time on their MySpace profile.

It can also help parents detect early warning signs when something is wrong. I found this article that talks about how being able to access your teen’s profile can actually help parents spot red flags or early warnings that something is up. From the article:

“It’s not a panacea, going through your child’s profile, but it can be a window into their life,” said Amanda Lenhart, a research specialist with the Pew Internet & American Life Project in Washington. “It can be a conversation starter.”

The challenge of course is that most teens don’t want you looking at their profiles. With tweens, you can set up the expectation that as part of you allowing them to be on these sites, you get to check in on any profile they have. This way it’s just part of the deal. And of course, with older teens, if you think something could be wrong or are concerned, I think it’s worth searching to see if their profile is public on MySpace or joining Facebook and searching for them there…

Also, I am going to begin adding this link to all my TW posts — it’s a link to the Blog Safety Forum run by Anne Collier of Net Family News, a moderated discussion space where you can talk about any of the issues I raise in these posts. Of course, feel free to comment here, too!

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