Social networking: who’s responsible for kids’ safety?

Social networking:  who’s responsible for kids’ safety?

While the newly signed European agreement is commendable, I'm finding it impossible to repress the suspicion that too many parents are delegating their responsibilities.

If I give my kids a computer and hook them up to the Internet, isn't it my responsibility to teach them how to use it safely?

It's all very well to demand that the social networking sites set the appropriate privacy defaults for under-18s, but … hello … isn't this something that parents should be teaching their kids anyway?

Teach them and then trust them.Kids are brighter than we give them credit for.

But if you suspect your child is putting himself at risk and you can't personally sit next to him to monitor what he's doing, there are plenty of utilities that'll do it for you: CyberNanny, CyberSitter, NetNanny, YouDiligence and ReputationDefender's MyChild, to name just a few. They're not free, but no parent worth his salt would say his child's safety isn't worth the money.

The jury's still out on whether using these monitoring utilities is a violation ofchildren's privacy.

My opinion is that (a) anything posted on my kids' social networking sites is accessible anyway by their friends and indeed any half-competent hacker with ill-intent, and (b), if their privacy is the only thing that's violated, then I've done a pretty good job of protecting them.

MySpace has been making a lot of noise about its removal of thousands of sex offenders from its user base.

FaceBook has also been working with the authorities to identify the unwanteds and clean up their user base, but they just got on with it, instead of advertising it to the whole world so that anyone who wants to prey on kids now knows he has to be a bit cleverer in concealing his true identity.

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