Stuff you should know about MySpace and Facebook
Welcome to another installment of VR's Stuff You Should Know!
If you've ever gotten irritated with your parents because they know all your passwords and check your e-mail, MySpace, and/or Facebook on a regular basis, this info might actually make you thankful for that. Did you know that in February MySpace kicked 90,000 sex offenders off their site? 90,000...that's just scary. It turns out that many of those kicked off MySpace might have just moved on over to Facebook, and are now free to hunt for young women and men there, although Facebook says it's working on cleaning up their site too.
Now think about this. Those are just the ones who had signed up under their own name, making them easy to find. How many do you think are out there disguised as someone else? Many predators hide behind the profile of a teenager or college student (male or female) in order to "groom" young girls into becoming their friends. Once they've gained your trust and started a relationship, they try to trick you into meeting them in person. There is story after story of young girls and guys who have been hurt and even killed by these men. So if your parents seem overprotective and you hate that they're always checking up on you, please understand that they know there are those who want only to hurt you, and they will do whatever it takes to protect you. That's what a loving parent does.
Now to be helpful, here are some things you can do to protect yourself when you're online:
1) Log in to your Facebook or Myspace account and change your privacy setting so that only your friends can see your profile and pictures. Think of how scary it would be for some creeper to go wandering through all your pictures and info in order to figure out where you live and how to get to you.
2) Do a yearly cleanup of your friends and get rid of anyone you don't actually know personally. There's no point in having strangers as friends just so you can say you have the most friends.
3) Never start up a relationship with a complete stranger over the computer or your cell phone. Most of these guys pretend to be something they aren't with the intent of using and hurting girls who are lonely enough to talk to them. And NEVER give out personal info like your address, phone number, e-mail, or full name to anyone you don't know well.
4) If someone does start talking to you and you're concerned, show your parents so they know what's going on. Over and over I've heard of girls who were lured away from home by people their parents didn't even know they were talking to.
5) Do a picture cleanup and take any pics offline that show you in a swimsuit or anywhere close to being naked. Again, think about the creepers who might be looking at these pictures.
There are so many tragic stories online and this kind of crime is just getting worse so please be careful about what info you're putting out there and who you talk to. If you need help making your profile as safe as possible, ask your folks or, if they can't help, e-mail us and we'll try to walk you through it. You guys are important to us but more than that, you're very dear to the God who made and loves you most.