12 yr. olds and web pages - FamilyEducation
12 yr. olds and web pages
01/22/2008 at 17:07 PM

Hi,  I was searching the web for articles on dangers of personal web pages and came upon this Family Education site.  My oldest daughter (age 12) has been using the computer more this last year, but isn't real saavy yet.  My husband and I agreed to let her have an email address four months ago with the stipulation that I would occasionally check it to make sure everything was appropriate.  I told her that when I was comfortable with how she and her friends were corresponding, I would let her have more privacy. By the way, she's very responsible,  4.0 GPA,  very involved in track, soccer, latin club etc, and is a great daughter.  I trust her, but am concerned about computer safety, appropriateness, etc.  (better safe than sorry).

Well, I checked her email a few days ago, after about 4 weeks of not checking, and saw that someone had sent her a message to be retrieved at her Bebo account.  Since I didn't know what Bebo was or that she even had an account.....I went to the link and accessed her web page.  For those who don't know, Bebo is like MySpace.  Her page wasn't very developed and it looked like she had just joined two weeks ago.  She just had her name and picture and some friends in the friend section, but I was disappointed because we had already talked with her about being careful about giving out too much info or having pictures posted of herself.  Anyway, I also decided to check out her "friends" pages and was pretty surprised at the vulgar language, polls about "love/sex", and rumors about teachers posted on these sites.  My hubby and I sat down with her and we all looked at it together.  She also seemed upset by all the swearing and negativity on the various friend's pages. She was very agreeable to close the account.  She said her friend set up her acct. and even had the password.  I believe her because the friend later called to find out why her account had been cancelled....my daughter told her what had transpired and asked her not to set up another page in her name, unless she (our daughter) discussed it with us first.
My question...Are these types of pages ever productive or are they just a huge time waster, OR WORSE, for a 12 year old.  Her dad and I think its better for her friends to stay in touch via the telephone or regular email.  We also explained that kids feel that when they type the swear words, it's not as bad as saying them, and even if she doesn't say, type, or have any on her page, the more she reads them, the more desensitized she'll become to them.   
As you can probably tell, I don't know a whole lot about these personal web pages, just enough to be really nervous.  Any other thoughts or advice would be really appreciated.

I think you handled this well.  My 19 yearold has had a myspace page for about a year, but she's 19.  I won't let my younger kids do it, I agree that real relationships are better than virtual ones (although I have enjoyed the people who post on this site).