The Importance of Online Internet Safety for Kids

Social Networking is all the rage right now, and I love it. But, I’m not so crazy about all of the tweens and teens I see on the social networking sites. My daughter has been begging me for months to let her have a Facebook account, but I can’t do it. In my opinion, she’s just not old enough to be subjected to some of the things available to her on Facebook.

I know. Call me overprotective. That’s ok. But maybe after I share my own personal story of an online experience, maybe you will understand where I’m coming from.

When I was 16, I was in love with a boy. That boy turned around and broke my heart. After that happened, I started spending a lot of time online in chat rooms. Way back then, we didn’t have social networking sites. If you wanted to connect with people, you did it in a chat room. I started talking to this one guy, and after several weeks of chatting online, we decided to meet up somewhere. Plans were made to meet up at a local park the next evening. I was so naive. Just stupid. I went with the intentions of meeting and talking. Had no idea what I was about to experience.

That evening, my parents went to church. I told them that I was going to a different church that night with my friend. This wasn’t out of the ordinary at the time. I was having trouble at school and church, and had started attending another church with one of my close friends. I told my friend that I wasn’t feeling well that night and was just going to stay home. She had no idea what I was really doing. And my parents had no idea that I had even been chatting online with anyone, and I didn’t want to allow them the opportunity to tell me I couldn’t meet him.

I arrived at the park that evening, and had a seat on the bench at the spot where we had agreed to meet. A few minutes later, a guy, (much older than he’d said he was online), showed up and sat down. We talked for a few minutes, and everything seemed ok. He told me how nice I was, how pretty I was. All the things a 16 year old girl with a broken heart wants to hear.

And then, he moved in to kiss me. WHOA. I wasn’t ready for that. I pushed him away and told him that I thought our plans were to talk. This made him angry. He became forceful and told me that he knew it was what I wanted. He grabbed me, and started kissing me – on my neck, my lips. All I remember was kicking and screaming, but he totally overpowered me.

After what felt like forever, a man walking his dog heard my screams and came running over to me. He scared off the guy who had been attacking me, and offered to call the police. I was so embarrassed, and so afraid of what my parents would say, that I convinced the guy that I would be fine and that I just wanted to go home. I realize now that man probably saved my life – or at least saved me from being raped.

I went back to my car, locked the doors, and cried. I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I never told my parents about that night. I knew they’d be ashamed of me. And until now, I’d never told anyone about that night. I should have known better. But, as a teen, I thought I knew everything. I thought I could trust someone that I’d been talking to – even though I’d never met them in person.

Now can you see why I don’t want my 12 year old to be on Facebook? I’m just not ready to expose her to everything that’s available to her on the world wide web. Does that mean I don’t ever want her to get online or communicate with her friends? Of course not. I just want her to do it in a way that will keep her safe.

That’s why when I found out I was going to be a Yoursphere Test Drive Mom thanks to Mom Central, I got excited. Why? Because Yoursphere prides themselves on being the social network for kids and teens that puts safety first.

I recently registered on the site, and so far, I like what I see. Ashley can join “spheres,” make friends, and have tons of fun, but I get a log of all of her activity, and can really keep an eye on things. Yoursphere is going to be a great way for Ashley to network online, have fun, and still stay safe.

Here’s a bit about Yoursphere and their mission (taken from the Yoursphere website):

Our mission is to create a premium social networking service that provides the safest online destination for kids and teens up to 18 — a dynamic, supportive environment where self-expression, creative participation, and healthy peer-to-peer relationships are encouraged.

To keep our community free of creepers, Yoursphere will remain in the forefront of Internet safety technology. And through continually updated educational tools and awareness programs, we are dedicated to helping members and member parents understand online safety and protect themselves.

Over the next few months, Ash and I will be completing homework assignments from Mom Central on Yoursphere. I can’t wait, and neither can Ashley. This is going to be a great way for us to spend time together.

The sign up process is simple. Just head to Yoursphere.com and have your child create an account. Then, Yoursphere will email you and verify all of the information. And, they really do verify it. When I filled out my online registration to verify Ashley’s account, I put “Angie” instead of “Angela” in the name. I received a phone call from Yoursphere to verify all of my information, and then they approved the account. I love that they really go above and beyond to keep my kids safe online.

When you sign up, be sure to use the referral code YSMC-0031 to let them know you found Yoursphere through 5 Vinez Monkeys.

You can also follow Yoursphere on twitter and facebook to keep up with the latest news:

I’m really excited about this program and can’t wait to start utilizing it! Hope you’ll join in the fun, and have your kids register today on Yoursphere.com!

Disclaimer: I wrote this review while participating in the Yoursphere Test Drive program by Mom Central on behalf of Yoursphere. I received a free lifetime Gold membership on Yoursphere.com, Yoursphere t-shirts, and a $50 American Express gift card to facilitate my review.

Angie Vinez (2872 Posts)

Angie is a wife and mother to 8. Her life revolves around cooking, cleaning, laundry, and other household duties. She is passionate about her life in Christ and wants to encourage other mothers in their own walk of faith. Angie is active on many social media networks, loves technology, photography, and graphic design, and loves creating blog designs for other mom bloggers.



Comments

  1. 1
    pcpandora says:

    The bottom line is that if parents REALLY want to keep their kids safe online, they need to know what said kids are doing on the computer, and what is happening in their online lives. Blocks and filters are easy to get around, and talking alone will get you nowhere… (if you think your kids are going to tell you, honestly, everything they are doing online – you are a fool). Education is a great thing, and very necessary, but how can you consider yourself educated if you don’t know the simplest information – like what your kids are really doing. If you have monitoring software, like our PC Pandora (http://www.pcpandora.com), you will know everything they do and will be able to talk to them about it. If you aren’t monitoring and don’t know what they are really doing, how can you be sure they are safe? It’s not an issue of privacy (I have no idea where and when kids were granted endless privacy because they exist – in my day privacy was earned through trust and an established good behavior record), nor is it an issue of trust – it’s called being a 21st century parent. If you don’t know what your kids are doing online, you aren’t doing your job as a parent. If you aren’t monitoring what your kids do online and watch them, someone else will…

  2. 2

    Wow, what a powerful story. It made me wonder just how close to my age you are. I met a ton of people in online chat rooms, and thankfully only ever made real-life connections with "normal" people. I am still friends with a lot of the people I met back then in real-life, and no longer would even want anything to do with the rest of the people I used to chat with. I'm glad there's a safe place for kids now 🙂

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