Safe Spaces
April 18, 2006

Dig way back into what you can remember of history ... dig back in the dark ages before electricity ... back to a time when our children were safer. When the only things a parent had to worry about were wild animal attacks, random murderer and pedophile type people, the dangers of swimming holes, quarries and climbing rocks, cliffs, trees and the like. Ahh, yes, life was so much simpler then ... you didn't worry about kids bringing guns to school - unless it was to hunt dinner on the way in. And sure, they might rough each other up in a game of fisticuffs or they might fall our of a tree and break a limb ... they might catch polio or scarlet fever or the whooping cough. But those dangers were nothing like ...

Well, maybe they were the same.

It's always been a struggle as a parent to find the time to monitor your kids' activities and keep them safe without watching them so closely that they're smothered and rebel. Whether it was the worry of the local quarry, that patch of woods all the kids used to play cowboys and indians, or the playground equipment they scaled in lieu of trees, kids do things we wish they didn't do. They take risks we wish they wouldn't take, and half the time (if not more), they don't even realize they're taking risks.

It seems for every danger we've managed to eradicate, another one has sprung up in its place.

The focus lately seems to be largely on what electricity brings us: television, music, videos, and, of course, the internet.

When a bear ravaged a village in Oregon, the cry was to eradicate all bears because bears kill people (and knock down trees? ... I just had to say it). When a gator chomped a kid in half in Florida, people went nuts to kill all gators. When one kid took a game of Dungeons and Dragons too far, parents called for the banning of the "evil" game. When a kid in Texas fell out of a tall pine tree and was paralyzed, we didn't cry out for the chopping down of every pine tree.

In a great many of these cases, the real issue is not so much a game, the wild and domestic predators or the music our kids listen to. Most of the time the issues is simply time. How do we spend enough time with them? How do we tell them often enough how to be careful without undermining their confidence? The simple fact of the matter is that we can't be with them every minute, particularly as they grow older. At some point they have to make their own mistakes and we have to pray like mad that our kids will be both smart and lucky and escape serious harm.

When I was a kid, people were scared of Dungeons & Dragons, heavy metal music, other music (like Prince) and fears were just beginning about video games.

Today we can add the internet programs with the online pedophiles trolling for children, plus the wealth of information our kids can find by purpose or by accident, that we may not want them to have. Most parents in "first-world" countries fear the new playground of cyberspace even more than our ancestors worried about wild boar and the environment in general.

But what really cheesed me off this morning while web-surfing was this:
Their Logo  

The newest scapegoat ... err, danger in a parent's arsenal of fear is now the web community MySpace. In fact, Dateline just ran a big story on the dangers of MySpace. And I have to say that what I heard of the story was actually responsible journalism instead of the fear-mongering garbage we've been getting for the last decade or two.

But, the tag line for this MyChristian-Space.com just completely makes me want to throttle someone. Note the difference, please. I'm not saying that the concept of a Christian blog-type community is a bad one. I'm just saying that to proclaim because they don't allow profanity or immoral ads, that they are therefore a "safe place" is naive to the extreme.

The problem with any community, online or not, which attracts a flock of teens and pre-teens, is that the same community will also attract predators.

I clicked through on the banner to see what mychristian-space.com was like. The photo (randomly chosen, I'm sure) which first popped up only continued my irritation with this group.

IMG DELETED (at request of MyChristian-space) How safe is it for a 17 year old to post her name, city and state to the site? And, of course, her photo. Of course, there's the real oddity in that I'm pretty sure that the "Angelina" pictured here is a female, despite the profile listing as male. If she's male, she does an amazing drag act.

To me, this advertising as "Your Safe Space" particularly during this MySpace "scare" is reprehensible. I can just hear some of the parents saying to themselves, "oooooo, MySpace isn't safe for my teen, but I'll send them to "MyChristian-space.com: your safe place" that'll solve any problems!" After all, it's Christian AND they advertise as a safe place.

And the photos of the "recently logged in members" was just as scary. Most of those users were teens or children:

IMG DELETED (at request of MyChristian-space)

I beg of you, if your kids are online at all, do the research yourself. Don't trust the advertising, don't trust the news articles, don't trust what you've heard. Go investigate your kids' interests for yourself. Play their video games with them both so you can see what they're doing and spend quality time with them. Sure, you may not like playing the game, but you didn't really like reading Goodnight Moon 7000 times from age one to age five, either. If you find something objectionable, talk to your kid. Please don't hand down edicts.

Zero tolerance policy ... blanket statements ... these aren't very good tools.

If you're going to check out of your child's life, there are no safe spaces, not mychristian-space.com, not your neighborhood.

We can't be there every minute. But we can let them know we're trying and that they're a priority. If we value them and let them see that, they'll value themselves more.

Posted by Red Monkey at April 18, 2006 9:05 AM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |

 

Cat said:

Hey, I wrote about this the other day and it really made me proud that so many realize it's not MySpace that's to blame but the lack of parenting out there. Now to fix the issue.

I meet so many that DO care but when my 3rd grader came home yesterday to look up sextoons...b'c her friend said the site was funny and she should look it up...it made me wonder if "tattling" on this child would do any good at all.

Do you go to the parents or do you just make sure your own child knows right from wrong?

I'm posting about this one. It just bothers me! :)

Thanks for sharing--I had no idea that one was out there and it does give a false feeling of "goodness" where there is no safeguard that can truly keep us from harm or our children from harm except for time and working together. All too often kids are left to fend for themselves. A shame.

April 19, 2006 7:25 AM

 

Dirty Butter said:

My goodness! It's not very often I find someone who can write that much and I agree with everything they say! Bravo!! I particularly like the point about reading Goodnight Moon 7000 times. I never thought of being involved in playing teen's video games in quite that light. Puts a new perspective on our grandchildren's games for me, and I thank you for that.

April 20, 2006 5:42 AM

 

jerine said:

for ur info, the chinese refer caucasians as red monkey. im wondering...do u happen to be a caucasian as well?

    Red Monkey said: Hehehe ... I didn't know that, but yeah, I do happen to be caucasian. Thanks for telling me that.
April 20, 2006 6:07 AM

 

Mr. Matt said:

I would have to agree with this too. I'm on myspace and I constantly notice that the "yourger" kids have way too much information on the pages about them selfs. Like what school they go to, where they hang out, and what activities they do. You can also search with in 10 miles of any given zip code to fine "friends." It's sites like these that make stalking so extremely easy and pretty much open the doors to online predators. More Parnets need to know that.

My little sister is on myspace. She is 14. I monitor he site constantly. I've given her web address on the site to my mother and she is now monitoring it as well. Neither of us told her she couldn't have it. We simply told her not to put information on there that might peak interest by the wrong people. So far she has had to change one thing.

April 21, 2006 9:06 AM

 

Mr. Matt said:

Oh, it's quite funny about what Dirty Butter said. Those pants. They are Caucasian Jeans. That's kinda funny.... ok I'm leaving now. :D

April 21, 2006 10:13 AM

 

Dirty Butter said:

Ok, Mr. Matt. I haven't a clue what you mean about the pants. Please let me in on the joke, OK?

    Hehe, Mr. Matt's referring to the comment about Red Monkey being a name the chinese call caucasions AND the fact that I complain bitterly about the popularlity of "Red Monkey Jeans." These are evidently some rare jeans from Japan or something ... embroidered by hand and limited to 50 of the same pattern. Evidently these things run now between $900 and $1400 US ... and most of the search hits to my site are actually people hoping for these jeans. ?
April 21, 2006 6:10 PM

 

Jenn said:

just wanted to leave an emphatic: well written!

April 22, 2006 11:04 PM

 

kristinaQ said:

You are so on target with all that Myspace stuff. Honestly when I was a little younger I didn't think anything of it, but now I see my younger cousins with their silly little profiles and I'm just glad they don't act like little web-skanks posting up half-nude or ass-shot pictures of themselves on-line when they're what, 14, 15 y/o? It's pretty sickening to see such young girls wanting to portray themselves in such a manner..

April 23, 2006 10:12 AM

 

AravisEstel said:

My comment is yes MCS is a safe site. Eiddie the site's Admin is monitoring everything that gets posted and deleting anything that could harm. So far he has been doing his best on the site, and has gottin some great comments from parents.
Thank you for your time,
AravisEstel

April 26, 2006 11:39 PM

 

Cherokeldy said:

I just wante to write on the Christian myspace comment you had. Its easy to talk when your outside looking in..but many of us there are commited to keeping our kids safe. Yes the owner stays on track of things..and if there is any action that needs to be taken.he takes it.
Why dont you join us for awhile and test drive yourself!

August 16, 2007 8:29 PM

 

Phyllis said:

I am commenting on your comment about MCS. I am a member of this wonderful site. I am proud to be on there.
Eddie, our Admin. is very diligent about such things and we as Christians are very mindful of such things. We are all parents and we watch over these kids as well. I, as a Christian, am very glad that we have young people on there. We all watch over this page. You are right tho about one thing. We, as parents need to watch what our kids get into. I, for one, am a mother, grandmother and greatgrandmother and I am only 47 years old, so I know what kids are into these days. Nothing and I mean nothing is child proof. I welcome you to MCS and invite you to find out what we are all about. One stop does not really give you a good idea about us, just like most sites. Come and check us out.

God bless you,

Red Monkey says: Umm, look folks ... 1 this post is over a year old ... 2 duh. I'm not saying the site itself is bad. I'm saying just what you are: you can't watch the kids 24/7 and while MCS might be a safER place than MySpace (which, personally, I think is a frightening cesspit) ... NO PLACE is "The Safe Place." That's all I'm saying. Good grief, you people need to chill out.

August 16, 2007 8:54 PM

 

Phyllis said:

I am sorry if you feel that we are being aggressive. You are right about no place being safe. Where there is a will, there is a way. I agree. I guess what I am saying is that MCS tries very hard to make sure that doesn't happen. Nothing is fool proof.
I still invite you to come and visit. There are a bunch of nice people there.
God Bless You.

Phyllis

August 16, 2007 11:03 PM
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