Blog sites and your children

By Jonathan Stromberg

In the last article, I looked at the dangers that chat can pose to a child or adolescent, and now I would like to talk about how blog sites can increase the risk of a child been approached by potential predators through chat sites.
A blog is basically an on-line journal. It is a very simple mechanism to control and provide content to a web page. The user just creates an account and begins posting content to his or her blog. Content can be pictures, music, video or text. This blog is often then freely available to the public.
A predator could start up a conversation with your child by getting their chat name from the child’s blog/web site, by searching the user database profiles or by joining a chat room for which the child is a member.
Blog sites are generally open to anyone in the world to read.

A public forum is far too free a medium for those who are not fully aware of the consequences of their actions. Children really don't understand that ANYBODY could be reading their blogs and do not understand that just because you don't write all of your information out at one time, that someone can compile it. Children must be educated about the dangers, and taught that they should not give away their own privacy; something that should be closely guarded.

Websites like the ones below enable children to sign up for their own free blog and say anything and everything. None of these sites are supervised or monitored in any way:
livejournal ...
my diary ...
open diary

These are particularly popular sites for creating blogs, and with just one glimpse at some of the blogs in one can discover a great deal of information about a large number of children and adolescents. In one particular blog of a 13 year old girl, it is possible to view her picture, get her first and last name, the school she attends, her e-mail and her chat address. It would very easy now for anybody to log on and start a conversation with her in chat or send her a letter through her email, and thus attempt to enter into a relationship with this girl.

Parents everywhere should be warned about the threats to children who blog. Many parents would be shocked to find what kind of information their kids are posting on the Web, including personal information that would allow a molester or other criminal to exploit them. Parents are urged to monitor what their kids are doing, and take steps to protect them. If your child has to blog, make sure that they understand the dangers and what kind of information not to share, and make sure that you monitor the blog regularly.

When it comes to the Internet, parents worry about pornography and sexual predators. But when it comes to precautions, only half of the parents surveyed by Family PC Magazine are taking advantage of the commercially available filtering and monitoring software that helps to protect children from the dark side of cyberspace.
Outrightly banning the Internet would be somewhat extreme, and of-course it is impossible for parents to stand behind their child every minute they are on the computer. Therefore the only way to know exactly what your children are doing while they are on the Internet is to get an Internet monitoring and filtering program. can assist parents to lessen the potential dangers that Internet chat can expose to their child in the following ways:
Protect children online and guard public-use computers Firstly, iProtectYou enables the parent to monitor exactly how the Internet is being used. It monitors what sites have been entered into, what times they were looked at, and, of particular relevance to this article, into which chat rooms the child has entered, what exactly was talked about and with whom.
Secondly, iProtectYou enables the parent to restrict the times in which a child may use the Internet. As mentioned in the article 'The Internet and your child,' children and adolescents often make use of the time when parents are not at home to use the Internet, but with this program the childs' use can be limited to a time when the parent is able to keep an 'real time' eye on how it is being used.
Thirdly, iProtectYou enables the parent to block sites, words and programs that are deemed inappropriate for their children. This means that, for instance, the aforementioned blog sites could be blocked, and even the word 'blog' itself could be blocked, making it impossible for a child to gain access to any site of such a character.
Finally, with iProtectYou the parent can approve sites, words and programs that are deemed suitable. This function can be used in conjunction with the blocking function to give the parent total control over which chat sites their children can access. For instance, all sites could be blocked, or all sites with the word 'chat' in them, and access granted only to a small number of approved sites such as those listed in the article 'Chat sites and your children' provides a comprehensive range of solutions to the problems arising from chat sites and children, and is highly recommended to parents who are concerned about their child's safety.

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