YouDiligence.com, a service launched late last year that alerts parents and educators to questionable content on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking websites. The company says that business has been exploding since MySpace recently cooperated with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal to hand over the names of 90,000 registered sex offenders that were identified and blocked by the social networking site.
Here’s how it works: When a child (or one of their friends) post inappropriate or questionable content on their page, an email alert is sent to the parent. A pretty comprehensive report is also stored on the user’s dashboard. Reports include time, the inappropriate words used, the context of how the terms was used, where it was posted (i.e., on a profile page, caption, wall comment, or if child writing a comment on someone else’s page) and a link to the exact URL.
To quote their site, “YouDiligence offers you the comfort to know you are still able to protect your child even if you don’t have the time to review their pages on a regular basis or if you happen to miss one day. It gives you, as a parent, the comfort to know that you are doing everything you can to protect your child from on-line predators and internet bullies.”
Sounds good to me. The hard part is it requires to know your child’s password AND they had to have added you as a friend to their network. Maybe you can make a deal with your child and tell them that all you want to do is reassure them and yourself that all is safe and well. Even write up a little mock contract which swears you’ll keep your nose out of their business (as much as you can) and that you trust them, but you don’t trust the rest of the world with them. Explain they are your heart and your world and that this service will help keep it that way.
I think as a teen I would have fought it. I would have tried to rebel and made it difficult for my parents. But now that I’m a Mom I absolutely see this service as being nearly a necessity.
Either way, you should have an open discussion with your child about the dangers on social networks. You don’t want to scare them or be paranoid, but it’s an unfortunate fact and being aware is always the first step.