Name: margalit
Location: Massachusetts, United States Professional writer, educational advocate, opinionated ultra liberal mother of 18 year old twins, living life in the slow lane due to hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, and diabetes.

email: margalitc at yahoo dot com

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Parenting teens in the days of MySpace

I've written before about MySpace and that I allow my teens to have pages on this site, despite my reservations. I do so because I am ever vigilent about watching their pages, questioning anything I think is inappropriate, and deleting friends I don't want them talking to. I'm extremely careful and I talk about adding new friends and giving out personal information all the time. My kids roll their eyes they've heard it so much. But evidentally not quite enough.

Today I was checking the Girls page while she was in school. First I go through her inbox to see any new messages. She has several, from some guy I've never heard of, and a couple of them are really inappropriate. So I looked at his site and there are 6 pages of women and no men at all in his friends list. Plus, quite a few of the women are scantily clad and a bit too sexy for my taste. They guy identifies himself as 23 years old. I'm really not happy.

I contacted MySpace and reported him as a preditor. I contacted the police and reported him as a preditor. The police are taking it seriously enough to come over and get the printouts of his mail to the Girl. They're going to be watching his space carefully. I also sent him a message telling him I was reporting him to both the police and to MySpace and not to contact my daughter any more. She is no longer on his friend's page, either.

But what upsets me the most is that when the Girl came home and I questioned her about this guy, she told me a friend of hers is in love with him, and that he's been to our house to pick up said friend. Her friend is 13, too. OMG, I'm so upset it's beyond pissed and angry. This is bothering me to the core of my being.

I deleted this guy and blocked him from my daughter's site. But the bad thing is, unknowingly she gave him WAY too much information as to where her friend lives now, and now to get in touch with her. I don't think she meant to, and she says that he's a 'nice guy', like all preditors are. She just doesn't get the whole preditor thing at all, despite watching Dateline shows on this very topic over and over. She thinks that because her friend knows him in real life, he's OK. Even when I showed her the latest mail from him asking about her sexual preferences. She's 13. I don't think she needs to be asked this by anyone, never mind some 23 year old creepy guy on MySpace.

I so want to delete her page, but she is using it appropriately 99.9% of the time. She made a bad error in judgement, one that involved the police and her friend's parents. Hopefully she'll learn from her mistakes. If not, the page goes.

Update: About 2 hours later, after I had talked to her about this, this asswipe emailed her thru MySpace again. AGAIN. First he responded to my email telling him to leave my kid alone with this ditty:

" I might also add that a bitter old lady should really mind her own business and allow her daughter to become a person, not just a posession that you monitor. "

Then the Girl writes back, idiot that she is:

" THANK YOU. want to tell her that. but i really am sorry and i like totally cried ova this "

He responds to her mail:

" HAHA, Im sorry, I know your mom is just looking out for you, but i dont think your profile says ur 13 anyway does it? i thought it said a bit older, but dont worry, im a nice guy, I assume mxxxxx told you some stuff about me so....ya, thatd be good lol. so how was ur day otherwise??? "

Then she writes back:

"if i were u, i would nt message me, but if u want to talk to me, tell some to message me and tell them to tell me to message u back. i can message u and we can talk that way but u shouldnt message me first. did that make any sence?"

And he responds:

"it would make more sense if you just had an email address lol???"

At which point I catch her in the act and go ballistic. I emailed him this:

"How fricking stupid are you? I told you to leave my child alone. I've reported you to the police. YOU STOP HARASSING MY CHILD NOW. NOT ONE MORE WORD. NOTHING. You are a preditor and a real sicko. She's 13. Marley is also 13. I've contacted her Mom, and she isn't happy. Either you stay far away or I'll be forced to have the police take immediate action.


So, I again blocked him from her site (yahoo to MySpace for ignoring me the first time), copied all the emails for the police to pick up tomorrow morning, and banned her from the computer unless I am sitting with her. She told me she felt badly that she just left this jackass hanging. She STILL thinks he is a nice guy.

I called her friend's parents to let them know, and found that her mother had already reported this guy and called the FBI. And still he goes on.
I haven't yet pulled down her page, but the computer is now password protected and she cannot get on it without my knowing. Heh.

I fricking HATE THIS.
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Blogger Erin said...

Internet predators - scary. Those Dateline specials scare the living crap out of me!

24/4/06 7:41 PM  
Blogger BSumner said...

seriously scary... please keep us updated.

24/4/06 9:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Harvey said...

I can understand you being somewhat protective, but be careful. Your daughter needs to make some mistakes and have her life, and your job is to make sure those mistakes don't put her in danger. While there are a lot of messed up people on the internet, there are a lot of okay people.

I would tend more on the side of getting your daughter to communicate with you than looking up what she's been doing while she's at school. I'm a few years older than your daughter, but I can tell you, if now – or ever, my parents tried to surveil my internet usage, I'd get rather bitter.

That's my 2.2c.

25/4/06 4:30 AM  
Blogger Cagey said...

Hmmm, while some of what Andrew Harvey said makes sense, much of it did not. She is 13, living in your house with your rules. Furthermore, talking to a 23 year old MAN is not "making a mistake", it can be downright dangereous.

Of course a 13 year old is going to get bitter - bitter is part of the job description. I was bitter that my mom kept track of who I was talking to on the phone and i was NOT allowed to call boys. So, yeah, I was bitter, but that was the rule if I wanted to use the phone.

Kudos to you for taking prompt action and not backing down.

25/4/06 2:11 PM  
Blogger Andrew Harvey said...

In this case, I think you pulled the plug at the right time. However, you've only really detailed snap decisions, and freakouts, not sitting down with your daughter and saying "This is why I did this. I wish I didn't have to, but I did it because I love you and couldn't bare to see you get hurt."

That's still not going to win points with her (all teenagers are bound to react), but the open dialogue which you facilitate after that will. If you show that you are willing to talk, and not just make decisions and take action, she is a lot more likely to accept that, and thus a lot less likely to try and go around your back.

25/4/06 6:09 PM  
Blogger OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

What a mess, eh Margalit? I don't envy you in this situation at all...! It seems like you have done everything you can do and hopefully the police will really follow through on this guy. Hard to have a teenage daughter in this age of the Intenet...well, hard to have a teenage daughter, period! (lol)
This guy sure sounds like the creep of all time.

25/4/06 7:54 PM  
Blogger Kel said...

OMG!! I give you lots of Kudos for standing up and going after him. Having a 23 year old guy after 13 year old girls is just wrong and I'm glad someone spoke up.

I agree with cagey that some of what Andrew said is correct, but your daughter is still very young and has plenty of time to make those necessary mistakes.

Bitter is part and parcel of the whole "teenage" thing.

25/4/06 8:19 PM  
Blogger Fidget said...

Andrew is not realizing the depth of teh problem here, your daughter obviously needs her hand held if she is giving out locations of where she and her firends are via Myspace to 23 year old guys - its like so cool, he's OLDER... uh huh, she is too young to graps that he is a peditor and I think you are doing the right thing. COnsidering that she is typically responsible using her page I would not pull it down yet but allow her to earn back "unmonitored" computer time. I am not looking forward to when my girls are old enough to put me through this. Chin up and I hope they lay the smack down on this perve

25/4/06 9:16 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

wow. That sounds really scary. Hopefully things are under control now and he will never try to contact her again.
I've had tons of sleazy guys message me on myspace. I tell them all to get lost and thank goodness most of them take the advice to heart.

25/4/06 11:41 PM  
Blogger The Silent K said...

oh man. Parenting in the age of technology. Wow.

I can't even imagine. I'm sorry that this is happening in your family.

It is scary.

26/4/06 6:35 AM  
Blogger nita said...

i'd yank her, too. this isn't funny stuff. kids get way in over their head. way to be unpopular and stay right in there. good mom, good mom ...

26/4/06 9:29 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...


I know a few people who, when they have a moment, go through random profiles and if they see adult men whose friends are ALL teenage girls, report them to MySpace. Sort of like MySpace vigilantes, I guess. I might start to do the same.

26/4/06 12:48 PM  
Blogger Glibbidy said...

this is what i have to look forward to as a parent? Vigilance with the PC. I might as well pull the ethernet drops out of my daughters room now.

27/4/06 3:37 PM  
Blogger Aimee "Roo" said...

i am so glad to hear that you are on top of this. so many parents just aren't. good for you on all counts.

hello from Michele!

28/4/06 2:53 PM  
Blogger Shane said...

wow, amazingly stupid that guy is. sheesh

29/4/06 6:59 PM  

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