Technology and the internet have produced a whole new set of complications for parents. Two decades ago parents didn't have to think about sexting, Internet predators and cyberbullying. Sure they still had to deal with these issues in a different context, but technology has given kids (and adults) immediate access to the world lurking outside of their immediate environment.
Parents can monitor the immediate environment, can make sure the home is safe and the kids are safe in it. But with the Internet and computer cameras and laptops and smart phones, the world--all its good and all its bad--are just a few clicks away.
In an article on cnet.com, Chris Matyszczyk writes about a middle school principal in New Jersey who sent a letter to parents imploring them to get their kids off of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. He is quoted in the article, "Please do the following: sit down with your child (and they are just children still), and tell them that they are not allowed to be a member of any social-networking site. Today!"
The principal, Anthony Orsini, said in his letter to parents, "There is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle-school student to be a part of a social-networking site! None." He explained that he is just tired of all the meanness that social networking seems to encourage. He spoke of kids who might choose to start a Facebook group called "Dave is Ugly." "Once that pain happens, it's impossible to bring back," he told ABC News.
Then there are parents who believe that kids who earn the right to have an identity on social networking sites shouldn't be punished for all the bad that happens online. Others feel that as long as their kids are monitored while using the computer, that no harm can come from posting messages for close friends and family members to see.
Facebook and MySpace have a minimum age requirement of 13 to start an account. How old do you think kids should be before staring a social networking identity?