Monday, September 25, 2006

The Internet Police OR Bebo's Mother is Watching You

Bebo is one of the sweetest most responsible young people that I know. He is 13 years old about to turn 14. That being sad, he is not happy with me....not happy with me at all.

Bebo has a myspace profile. I asked for his password and he did not want to give it to me.

Do I believe he is hiding something from me? No I do not.

Do I think he is plotting to over throw the world? No I do not. (though, if he is and does, I am afraid that I may be beheaded).

Do I think that there are bad people out there that pose as teenagers? Oh yes I do.

Bebo is very responsible with our computer as far as I know. I do not have any reason to think that he is not. I tried to explain to Bebo that I totally trust him and that this is not a *him* thing. That did not go over well and, if I were 13 years old, I would not be buying it either. However, it really is not a *bebo* thing....it is a big wide world thing. A world filled with good people and bad people. At 43, it is hard for me to tell them apart at times. I do not want to let my son fall prey to some pervert on the internet when there was something...anything that I could have done to prevent it.

So, he gave me the password. He did not want to. I also have the password to his email account. Have I ever been in his email to poke or prod? No. If I were ever suspicous that there was a problem would I? Yes I would.

Before I got this job, I thought that the world was good and kind and that evil was always black.

Now I know better.

Perverts look like bankers, ice cream men, waitresses, preachers, day care workers and probation officers. They look just like you are me. If would be great if they all looked greasy and wore trench coats for ease of exposure but, they don't. We could look up and say *Oh look, a sex offender.*.

Now, we have the internet. It is sometimes hard for me to comprehend that the person that I am corresponding with may not REALLY be who they say they are. The net is so good at helping us to hide our identity. Do you weigh 250 lbs? Not on the net....you can easily be a slim 125 lbs. Not as beautiful as Kate Hudson? You can be behind YOUR computer monitor.

So you will know that this is not one sided....I offered my passwords to Bebo. I have nothing to hide.

Am I being an overprotective mother bear?

So, how do you monitor the computer at your home? Do you have the passwords to your children's accounts?

15 comments:

  1. Well you already know what a bunch of geeks my family is, lol. I have had a home computer for over 15 years; back when 2mb of RAM was a big deal and we were drooling over a 640mb hard drive. And back before there was this world wide access to the world wide web. We have 3 desktops, and two laptops in our home; all networked. I like my network. I set it up so I know how it works, which means I know how to block access to sites such as MySpace. It also means I can check every single page any computer on our network acesses. My kids know I *can* do this and they know I *have* done it and will continue to do so on a regular basis. There is nothing they can do on their own computer that will keep me from seeing what they do; even if they clear cookies and browsing history, it's too late; the network software has already recorded it. It does not, however, show emails. It will show me they accessed it, but will not show the actual emails. I do not have their passwords, but they know that any time I ask them to log me in, they better do it immediately and without question. I randomly check their address books, and also their spam settings. They are not allowed to have any setting that saves spam; it is instantly deleted. The only mail that gets to their inbox is from those on their contact list; friends and family that *I* already know. Hotmail is the absolute WORST for getting the really bad spam. But it is also the easiest to configure settings to prevent it from getting to the inbox. Having their password will not keep them from doing things in email that you would not approve. If they are determined to get around you, they will be smart enough to set up their own account. There are also better places than MySpace to let them hang out and invite friends. You can block that from your computer even without a network program. Also, all our desktops are in ONE ROOM and they are NOT set up so they can hide what they are doing. We can see their monitors from anywhere in the media room. The notebooks belong to myself and my husband; we are the only allowed online from anywhere. They will not EVER EVER EVER have a computer in their rooms that is connected to the internet in any way shape or form. That is just inviting trouble. I still cannot believe how many parents allow that, with all the publicity these days about kids getting into trouble online.
    And I hope you don't get into BeBo's email at least until after your birthday, lol. We have some secrets in there.

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  2. But how did you know I was 250 lbs (blush) ...

    our kids have computers and internet access in their rooms - we try to spend time with them, build up trust and yeah occasionally pop into their rooms to see what they are up to (and they come to see what I'm doing too - no secrets there!)- I hope that we are teaching them good values and good choices, but I agree it's a dangerous world out there, and I too would like to wrap them in cotton wool some of the time. Heck I'd like someone to do that for me sometimes too!

    Our kids are teenagers - these are tough years - and most of it is learning as we go along, and learning from mistakes. I praise God that He helps us - gives us warnings and helping nudges ... spending time with our kids is perhaps one of the most important things we can do ... tonight we had a long homework session (French then Swedish then Maths) ... sigh ... I had my own to do too!

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  3. I know how you feel, Lorna. Mindy must have some sort of crystal ball or something. She knows that while I portray myself as, um, hefty, online - I am best described as delicate and waifish in real life. Hee hee hee!

    Katie's internet usage so far seems to be limited to sprawling in the middle of the floor, laptopping along with whatever the current movie of the week is on Disney channel.

    God, I hate the Disney channel. ~sob!~

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  4. Oh Rach... sigh. Before you know it, you will be LONGING for the silly, sometimes gross, adult-mind-numbing teeth-grinding silliness of the Disney channel. Because after that comes trying not to lose your mind after having to try and explain for the bazillionth time *why* you will NOT unlock the music video channels.

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  5. I say this because I love my brother, and whether he wan'ts to beleive it or not i too was once 13. I remember the same line-o-crap you told me about how it wasn't a 'babygator' thing it was a rest of the world thing. I now know that you were right. And yes I do feel that you should monitor those things. But you were never the kind to snoop around just for the sake of snooping. So I think you are doing the right thing. But always know Baby Brother I love you and I promise as much as it doesn't seem like it now...she is doing this for your own good.

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  6. Darn, Flutterby! I need to come to YOUR house and see what you got. That's awesome.

    It brings tears to my eyes, Mindy. You are right on. If Bebo wants that access...you get to see it too.

    And I say this from sad experience...not that my "little" 17 year old boy got ID theft'ed or molested, or anything like that. But what I learned from MySpace was some of what he and his friends/associates were into, and that they are STUPID (or else they think their parents are!!)

    They had posted some photos of themselves doing things that, while not illegal, are certainly not acceptable. And so my sweetie got his bee-hiney grounded for a long, long time.

    I keep watching the MySpace pages. I know they can change and hide them...they don't!

    It continues to amaze me how trusting they stay...even though they all know that B's stepmom busted him (and a lot of them), they keep on with it. WHich tells me they are NOT going to be careful with a stranger!

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  7. My kids are closely monitored. I have all passwords. They use the computer in front of us. They hate it, but I don't care. I'm with you. They have to be protected. They have old computers in their rooms with no internet access for word processing. I'm with flutterby-they never will. I care too much.
    Older Daughter has a really good friend with lots of photos on her site of her drinking and getting high. I am tempted to drop a dime on her to her mother.

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  8. Mindy, you are absolutely right to be cautious. My kids are light years ahead of me when it comes to computers, but I try to be aware of what they are doing with them and sometimes that means being a mean mom.

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  9. Yankee, if you have any way at all of giving info to that kids mom, even anonymously, you need to do it. If nothing else, it hands the feeling of responsibility to where it belongs; with HER parents. You will always worry unless you do something. My kids have a couple of our old computers in their rooms too and they are great for typing out homework and playing old games. Listmaker, that is exactly why kids get away with so much; too many parents don't know anything at all about computers. The kids who have graduated high school over just the last couple years have grown up with them at least in school, and more recently when they have become almost as common in homes as having a couch in the living room. Parents need to take a class and learn just what is out there; or at the very least, just check out a few things at home; see what you can find online. All the bad stuff. Even when you are NOT looking for it. For example, if your kids play games online or like to look up info about video games they have, chances are, most of the sites set up about those have links to pornography of one kind or another. I worried about forums my kids were using because none of those have any mechanism in place that would keep adults out of kids areas and vice versa. And as we all know from MySpace, they would just lie about ages and give false info anyway; none of it's ever verified. I blocked them, and let them set up their own. They hang out there with friends that *I* know, even if just having met them briefly at school or other activities. Yes, you have to trust your kids, and I do. As Mindy said though, it's a big mean ugly world out there sometimes. And THAT is what you cannot trust.

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  10. Sam's only 7 months old, so I do have his password because I set up his email account!! ha!
    but, I do NOT think you are being overprotective!! I have no doubt I would be mad at you if I were bebo but as an adult, knowing a little of the world and how naive kids are online, I think you're right to do what you're doing. I have a young friend that I know in person, and her friends I know as well. They all gave me their Xanga web addresses and I popped in there once in a while. they posted pictures of themselves and said exactly where they all liked to hang out and all kinds of other details of their lives that could fall into the wrong hands and be used badly. Because no one ever told them not to. And then when they were told, they didn't get it.
    Like someone I admire likes to say: (dr. phil, ahem....) Kids can't see around corners, they need us to do that for them.

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  11. No kids here yet, but I strongly believe in monitoring that sort of thing. I will have passwords, and the computer in our house will always be in a public area. Even with just Mr. M and I, we make sure that the laptop stays in the living room, no one ever clears history, etc. Trust is important, but so is showing your loved ones that you have nothing to hide.

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  12. Mindy you are the best :) - I got the parcel today ... about to blog on it!

    re the matter in hand, I think it's important to get a balance, and perhaps it's an american thing, but some of the reactions seem a little OTT. We do need to protect our kids, but we also need to help them make smart and wise choices for themselves ... because there are other computers /tv etc they will access which we cannot control access to etc ...

    what I appreciate most about my teenagers right now is when they mess up in some way they come home and talk about it ... for me that's worth its weight in gold.

    We have to be cautious yes, but not paranoid at every step. My bigger concern right now is the amount of time TS spends onthe PC, but then DD spends an equal amount of time at her hobbies - dance and theatre - so it probably speaks of me believing that time playing games on the pc is wasted ... sigh ... being a mum is not the easiest job in the world.

    bless you all :)

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  13. I've been thinking about this too. My almost nine year old is getting to the age where he will want his own e-mail, etc. So far, my kids seem not to have discovered myspace and I'm not going to be the one to tell them about it! At present our two computers are in the family room and our bedroom. What scares me is that I'm pretty sure by the time they are in high school, Blackberries, etc. will have become standard issue for everyone and it will be totally and completely impossible to exersize any control at all over a kid's internet access.

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  14. LightGirl has e-mail and my husband sees all of it. She knows this. He doesn't read it. But she's active in some on-line games and it's how we monitor where she's going. She wants a MySpace account ... we're wrestling with that. At 12 going on 13 in a few months I think I want her to wait for the MySpace account. Maybe make a coming of age thing. And ... the computer for the children is in a community area (the school room) where we can see it at all times.

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I am a girl who LOVES attention. Comment + attention = happy Mindy!