Do parents know what information their children are putting on the internet for the public to see? There are many sites (including Myspace, Xanga and Facebook) that give people all over the world the chance to display any information they want. Are these websites appropriate for children? I don’t think so. Online profiles are inappropriate for children to post, and these sites need to be much more secure.
Online profiles provide the perfect opportunity for stalkers and those who wish to harm others. Often children who have online profiles post personal information (including their name, age, address, cell phone number, email address, screen name, school, hang-out spot, as well as information about friends, family and enemies). Putting this information online makes it easy for psychos to track them down. Online profiles can even endanger those mentioned in your profile. It is easy to get back at people you do not like by putting their information or photos online, too.
Teens sometimes post invitations to parties, which makes it incredibly easy for uninvited people to show up and potentially do harm.
With an online profile, children can end up talking to adults about unsuitable topics. To sign up for an online profile you are supposed be at least 16, but it is easy to enter a fake age, and many do. Teens who talk to adults about topics that aren’t age appropriate will likely pass this information to a friend, which can cause even bigger problems.
Not only can you alter your age online but you can, of course, change your entire identity. Along with asking your age when signing up for profiles, sites request your name and other information, including your zip code. This is just asking for trouble. In this scenario of identity theft, false statements are often made about others and many can be hurt.
Another thing that makes online profiles dangerous is the fact that people are able to post photos of anyone or anything they would like to expose. People can provide any information about the photo and the person in the photo. Photos can even lead to blackmail, and it is very difficult to stop them from being placed on the internet.
There is nothing good about putting personal information or photos on profiles. Profiles should be more secure and sites need to be sure that the person creating it is who they say they are. There is no doubt that these profiles are not at all appropriate or safe for people, especially children. This obsession with dangerous profiles needs to be stopped.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.