Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Teen Blogging, Instant Messages and More
||| Mayflower Academy ||| Gentle Hearth ||| Contact Us
Teen Blogging, Instant Messages and More
From the Mayflower Academy Newsletter January/February 2006

I am writing the following out of deep concern for the many young people who are on the internet.

Some Mayflower families are new to homeschooling and their children have had access through school computer labs and cell phones to the internet for sometime. Other Mayflower families have allowed, as their young children have grown into teens, to be more active on the internet, instant messaging with church friends, homeschool friends and family.

In the last week, in the Bay Area two teen girls have gone missing. They both had blogs on One girl was tragically found out here in the valley. Many teen boys and girls are leading double lives and getting into serious trouble on the internet. Parents need to be aware and know that they are not powerless.

One problem as I see it is that parents don’t know enough about the computer, blogging, instant messaging and how it works.

Here are a few guidelines:

• Teach yourself everything you can about instant messaging and how it works. Let your children teach you. They don’t have to know it is so you can monitor them. Tell them you need to instant message me. I have MSN.

• Keep the computer in a central location. In past homes, our computer was in the kitchen. It is now in the dining room. Never have computers in a bedroom! Invest in software filters for safe internet searching.

• If they have an on-line profile (and they probably should not!) People can search for boys or girls by age and interest and then invite them to instant message. Teach your children that no matter how someone gets their address, you must approve it. I block almost all invites I get. If there is someone I am expecting, I will know there screen name when it pops up when I sign in.

• Watch your child’s screen names. They convey a message to others who see them. If it raises a red flag with you, ask them what it means. It may be something deep. One of my daughters often has very interesting screen names and is always changing it. Some, I or her Dad make her change. They are not terrible, but we don’t want people to jump to the wrong conclusion. When she signs in her Dad at work can see her on and read her name too.

• Know your children’s pass words. They are not adults. They are not entitled to “privacy”.

• Chatrooms are not the same as instant messaging. I do not see any reason why teens need to be involved in chat rooms. I have been in chat rooms myself, but they were for homeschool authors who were conducting a chat with a moderator (gate keeper).

• Blogs and forums are similar. You type a message or question and people reply to you. My oldest daughter was involved in something like this that was a creative writing exercise that went on several years. It involved scenes and characters from Lord of the Rings and possible twists and turns the stories could take. Many people collaborated on each section and then they would debate whose was the best/interesting. While she did not do all the writing, the product was fit for all our family to read.

• While I allow my daughters to share pictures with people we know through attachments and file sharing, I do not let them publish pictures on the internet for literally the world to have access to.

• Time on the internet and instant messaging can be very consuming. My husband and I have discussed rules and time limits for the children. They have to have school work and chores done. They have to have permission. We have Windows XP that allows us to put passwords on the computer for children who abuse their time. We have also explained to the children about wrist pain from repetitive keyboarding and the life long problems it can cause.

Everything in moderation, including computers.