The Wall Street Journal reported six hours a go that Myspace plans to offer parent software called Zephyr to monitor access to the information of their child as well as if the child changes their birthday or anything else:
The software will not monitor the MySpace user's movements or email, but it will “tag” the profile and report back to the parent if the user name, age or hometown have been changed. The software will collect this information about anyone who logs onto MySpace from the home computer, so it could collect information about a child's friends as well as the child.
One big issue at the meeting was whether MySpace's software would violate the privacy of users. Other social-networking sites have more restrictive privacy rules than MySpace — not allowing anyone to see a user's age or location, for example.
Another concern was that the software could be used by people other than parents to monitor the MySpace usage on their computers.
There are a whole wealth of issues swirling around this one including the mass exodus that MAY occur with some teens. The whole thing behind all of this is verification — there is no way currently to truly verify a child's identity, age, or who their parents truly are. If we're relying on the honesty of people we will find that there are many honest people out there. However, kids make mistakes and the truly dishonest that we are supposed to be protecting these kids from are liars by nature.
I echo the last sentence of the article:
Larry Magid, author of MySpace Unraveled and a Web site BlogSafety.com, says MySpace's software seems like an important step. But, he cautions “there is no tool that will solve the problem of parents not taking an interest in what their kids are doing on the Internet.”
The advice I give parents: Talk to your kids about it, have them show your their site and subscribe over RSS. (See my 11 steps to online parental supervision of your child.)
This is definitely one that my students will be blogging about! When you give them things where they have strong opinions, they can do some great writing!
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