The Dangers:

Before you let your children loose and unsupervised on the internet there are some shocking statistics that as a parent you need to know.

The online environment has evolved into a place of individual expression, social interaction, education and much more.

Your child now has a space that they can use to say and do pretty much anything they want. Sounds great in theory but in reality this is dangerous concept. is a global phenomenon; it is an expansive social network that connects people from all over the world and helps keep teens in touch with existing friends and make new friends.

The problem with this particular network and others like it is it provides predators with all the information they need to research and learn about your child.

Pedophiles and predators adopt a pattern of behavior that is known as grooming. This is where they gain the trust of the child typically over the course of a few weeks, gain information about them and work their way into a position of power over the child

This the research process would usually take time however with the teen’s information readily available at the click of a mouse they have all the tools they need to speed up the process.

A typical teenagers MySpace profile provides information about the area the teen lives in, where they go to school, where they hang out, their friends and their interests.

This is the sort of information you should be encouraging your child not to give out online because it is exactly this type of information that predator can use to gain the confidence of your child.

The guidelines are clear about internet safety and encourage their users to adopt safety principals. They claim to do their best to monitor and police the site (which is a debatable statement) but the fact is many teens do not heed these warnings.

The MySpace software allows users to search for specifics details when it comes to their users. You can do an age, area, school or community specific search.

Predators if they desire can specifically target teens simply by searching for them in a specified area or age group.

For example, a search for "15-year-old boys" in a specified area could turn up hundreds perhaps thousands of listings with locating, identifying and personal information.

Many teens also post photos of themselves and friends making it easy for them to be identified and targeted by a predator.

The internet and its social networks have indeed opened up a world of possibilities for children and teens. Myspace and others sites like it can provide a positive social space for your teen to express communicate and socialize.

Blog's can help build self-esteem, communication, and language skills. They provide a unique opportunity to voice an individual opinion and receive feedback for it. These are all great ways for your teen to interact with the world but only if you can ensure their safety.

Some of the key things you can do as a parent to minimize the risk to your teen includes education and monitoring.

First things first, just like stranger danger, road safety, drug and alcohol awareness you need to make internet safety a priority. Educating your children in strategies for internet safety is absolutely essential.

You cannot watch them all the time and often they will be using a public computer at school or at a cafe. So be clear about the rules and guidelines for internet use in the home. Be absolutely clear about the rule of not giving out personal information online.

Ideally if your child is using MySpace or other social media like blog's then you should ask for the address so that you can monitor the content.

This is often easier said than done as teens use the space to express things they may not want their parents to read.

If you are unsure of what you child is doing online you can use Parental control software that allow you to monitor your child’s internet use 24/7.

You may just be curious and concerned but it is better to know so that you can prevent any dangerous liaisons.

President & CEO,