Gaia and our teens
My Other Hubs and Bogs
- My search for good Monitoring Software for Teen Chat
After deciding to install monitoring software, I researched some and included the features. Still not sure which one to use.
- My Hard Drive Crashed, and I had no Backup!
The name says it all. Stupid me. My computer was mad at me.
- Parenting a Teen with OCD
About my journey to come to terms with what OCD means for my daughter, myself and my family. All about our struggles to find the right treatment, and the right balance.
Gaia - Is it Safe for our Teens?
If you are a parent of a teen, then you have probably heard about the new "social sites". My Space was the first one I heard about, and there has been a lot of information about protecting our kids on that site. Gaia is one that my 15 year old just found, and it seems much worse than My Space.
This site is enticing for the kids because lots of their friends are joining, and there is a huge network of kids already on it that they can meet. The idea sounds good. A place for teens to meet other kids and talk, play, and blog. Gaia is a little different because you get to design your image when you start, and so it doesn't involve real pictures like My Space. You then have an Avatar that you can dress, get accessories for, and even add pets. You actually walk around in different places or villages and meet people. They just move their avatar around, walk up to someone, and talk to them.
Sounds innocent and fun, right? The site advertises lots of monitering to keep it safe. I haven't seen much monitoring. There are forums or message boards with titles like "Are you horny?" or "masturbating". Even if they stay out of those forums, the kids they meet are always asking her if she wants to "Cyber". You know what that means right? It means Cybersex. They talk dirty and ....well, fill in the rest yourself.
They are able to do this through private chat that is allowed on that site. There is no way to know if they are talking to another teen, or a sexual preditor. Even if it is other teens, is this really a good idea? When I found out what was happening, and what kind of invitations she was receiving, we had a talk. She has always been warned about sexual predators, but she wanted to know if it was harmful to have some fun and write back to these people?
I had to think about it. Kids at 15 years old are experimenting with so many different things. Is fantasy sex a big problem? I just didn't feel it was a good thing. I looked it up on the internet, (Of Course!), and found some information. One problem is that kids can get addicted to the cybersex just like some people get addicted to porn. It becomes an obsession, and can lead to consuming desires to find more and varied ways to fill the need. It can also be a problem for teens, because experimenting this way can lead to unrealistic expectations for the real thing. This can cause problems in later relationships.
At this point, my daughter is pretty innocent, but I know it won't stay that way forever. I would just like to protect her from things that will negatively affect her future. I especially worry about the sexual preditors. She is smart, but an adult who lives to find a target, will use tactics that most teens won't be able to see through. They may be heading for adulthood, but they still aren't able to realize all the dangers out there.
Of course, they already have new friends, and forums they don't want to give up, so what am I to do? Her father and I are ready to close her account. It's not that we don't trust her, it's the other issues that worry us. There are good things happening on there too. She started a post on Kids with OCD, and finally found others who understood her. She can't talk to her friends in school, because if it got out she had OCD, kids could be very cruel to her. So now she has a group of kids to share the trials of growing up with a difficult disorder.
I would really love to hear from anyone with definate feelings on this subject. If you have had similar experiences, good or bad, and have something to share, please leave a comment.
After a lot of thought, I am debating the issue of monitoring software or just cutting her off from the social sites. I think I like the monitoring idea because she is now Instant Messaging a lot of people she has met, and that will continue even if I shut down her sites. She is following my rules, but still responding to people I consider inappropriate. I will be writing another post about the monitoring software, so check it out if you are considering the same thing.