I recently read an article about Kiki Kannibal in Rolling Stone. The Girl Who Played With Fire. It's a little long but if you read it I think you'll come back with a renewed horror of dangers of being online. Not only that but also I was also confused and concerned about parenting my children when they are old enough to get online.
If you don't read the article here's a quick synapses. Kiki joined Myspace at 14 with her parents permission. In only three months she had thousands of "friends." She was getting modeling gigs and making videos for her fans to watch. Her very first one here, is of her dancing around to Mr. Roboto, her dress falls and her bra hangs out, she also takes of her panties and swings them around like a stripper. She is 14. Her parents say they thought the video's were "cute." She even got a boyfriend. He was 19 but lied and said he was 17. Still 14 and 17? Her mom went with her to meet him and he charmed everyone. He eventually raped Kiki and became obsessive over her. Kiki's parents said they didn't know how to get him to leave their home. After reporting him to the police, it turns out he had already done this to more then one 14 year old who he met online. Kiki had lots of fans, but also lots of irrationally angry haters. She would get death threats, they found out where she lived and posted it online. Her parents one morning came out to find their house toilet papered and spray painted. They eventually had to move in with Kiki's grandmother because they feared for their lives. Her dad had to take a pay cut and now their house is in foreclosure and they are bankrupt. All through this they never made Kiki get offline. They said they wanted to foster her creativity. Well, yeah but taking your panties off for strangers is not creative. The article paints Kiki as selfish for not wanting to give up her online fame even though she has broken her family. But I see it more as, why didn't her parents intervene? As soon as my kid start getting death threats or filming lewd videos, the computer would be on lock down. Period.
If you go google Kiki, remind yourself that she just recently turned 18. So all those dolled up sexy pictures are probably of an under aged girl and again be scared of what your kids do when you're not paying attention.
It made me wonder how to protect my own children. So far they only play games on Nick Jr, but it's not far off from them "needing" a cell phone and a facebook page. A lot of it is just common sense.
Keep the computer in a central place.
If they are locked in their room, in the dark, lord knows what they are doing.
Talk to them about privacy settings
Make them aware how easy it is for someone to get their info, like phone number or
address. Most social media sites have some privacy protection.
Remind them not to click remember me and to log off on public computers. Also I plan
on having their passwords. If they don't want me to have it then they don't need to be
Know what sites they use
Ask them, or if you want to be sneaky check their browser cache
Don't believe everything you read online
Some adults need this advice too
Teach them about meeting people from offline. Never meet someone alone, ever. Let
them know that you can be anyone online, a 14 year old boy could be a 45 year old pedophile.
Do not text, status update or tweet something you wouldn't say to some one's face, or
that you don't want repeated and blown out of proportion.
Basically just communicate and know what your kids are up too. Bonus tip: 14 year olds should not be taking any clothes off in video's online. Just saying.
Some people might say this is an invasion of a child's privacy and trust. I trust my kids mostly, I don't trust other people. And if it is an invasion of their privacy, well my kids will just have to be traumatized and hate me. I'm okay with that.
How do you protect your kids, or yourself for that matter, online?