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Friday, November 28, 2008

Letting him grow up

I found out yesterday that J-man has a MySpace account. He set it up while over at Dad's... and didn't tell me.

I'm sick to my stomach.

He's 13. He only has 4 friends on it and they all go to school with him. Yet it terrifies me that he has an account that is so open to so many people. So many possible freaks.

I laid down some ground rules...
  1. I have to have his password. I told him that wasn't so I could be nosey. It was so I could check in every once in a while to see what was up and that he wasn't "talking" to anyone suspicious.
  2. He had to keep his account PRIVATE. He had to invite only people he knows and accept invitations from people he knows in the REAL world.
  3. He couldn't put anything out there that gives any hint of where he was. To his credit he had already done that... he put he was born in 1958 (hee) and hadn't filled out any of his profile except his name (which is only his first name...) and the age.

That was it. Seemed pretty reasonable to me - and he agreed to it all. His account is set up with my dad's email address. Dad has agreed to randomly check the messages that come in to make sure J-man isn't doing anything silly.

I know I need to let go a bit. I know I need to let him have some space to make his own decisions and mistakes. I know that there are freaks out there and it is a slim chance that they would make my son their target, but I can't help but worry!

I remember who I was at 13... but I didn't have texting, the internet, IM, email, MySpace, etc. at my disposal. How do you control all of that with a teenager!? How do you keep them safe and yet give them the space they need to come into their own? How do you let them out of your sight and not cry at the thought that they could get hurt? Or become a druggie? Or get in a gang? Or get hurt by other, bigger kids? Or have their hearts broken because they are a cute, quirky, silly, little dude that wants nothing more than to have a girlfriend?

I don't want to be over protective. I don't want to push him away. I don't want him to feel like he has to sneak around and do this kind of stuff. BUT I don't want to let things slide either. What is the middle of the road here?

How do I let him grow up?


Neas Nuttiness said...

Oh - I have a Big J too. Really! You can check back to one of my older posts about him.
We found out that he set up a My Space account. Had the account open so that anyone could view it. Put stuped pictures of himself on it. Stated where he lived, and said that he was looking for a girlfriend.
...Now you have to understand, that my Big J will be 17 tomorrow. 17 going on 10. He is a little "behind" in his social development, to say the least.
You cannot believe the responses that he got. And the PICTURES that people sent him. REALLY SCARRY!
That account got closed immediately!
We locked him off of the computer, and now he can only get on when supervised.
It seems that no matter how often you explain to your kids, that it's a rough world out there - they just don't get it.
I feel your pain!

Lisa said...

Wow Marni, that's a tough one! Since WJ is only 8 I'm not sure I'd know what to do or how I'd handle it. I think everything you've said you're doing the right thing. And, it sounds like your Dad knew since J-man was using his email address, so that's a good thing. Right?

SassyDog said...

My daughter is 18 and still thinks I don't know what I am talking about when I try to warn her about predators. It is very scary and you have every right to be worried. She thinks she can trust those people on myspace. I have told her so many times that you can barely trust people you know let alone the ones you meet on myspace.

KLee said...

I'm dealing with some of that as well -- Offspring will be 13 in about a month, and it's so hard to walk that fine line. I mean, there are some girls who are *pregnant* at 13, for god's sake! I want to watch out for her, but not smother her. I want to lay down ground rules that keep her safe, but I don't want her to feel like I'm constantly into her business.

Luckily, Offspring isn't very interested in MySpace and chat rooms. She will chat with her friends, but there's not much interaction with people she doesn't already know in real life. I still worry, though. But, its our jobs as mothers to worry.

CindyDianne said...

Marnie, I had this with Trevor too. I decided to monitor and allow it. Until he was 16, he didn't open up to the public. Then, I started slowly letting go. But, I am still his friend on myspace and facebook and I still check up on him. But, he doesn't know it...

klasieprof said...

Been there..doing that. Wouldn't allow a seperate email account..then when he was 14 he did it on Yahoo.
Set up a myspace..had to literally go through it and TELL him what his friends were doing and how much information I gleaned about them through the connection of HIS myspace account.
a couple weekends ago..he had 2 buddies, both GOOD kids who have been in my house MANY times (one for over 10 years) son went to bed, and the OTHER two --porno all night long till hub got up at 6 a.m. to go to work. I started digging..and sure' of them (the son friend NOT my son) had such NASTY stuff, and admitted he was Gay (and only Online people knew it), AND had met an "internet stranger" in real life-that sort of "creeped him out". REALLY? NO KIDDING? WHAT? You didn't think a FREAK would be looking at a 16 year old profile who said he is looking for adult male companions?...
..and on and on and on. Not a pretty place to be in my house these days.

Marni said...

klasieprof - your story is exactly what I'm afraid of... bless your heart! Let me know if you need someone to vent with!!!

coffeypot said...

I cancelled it.

I was getting 12 to 15 hits a day and most of them were from older people asking for permission to join his contact list. One girl was looking for a lasting relationship. I cannot monitor all his mail - nor do I want to. But it is just not safe, no matter how many rules you place on him. Temptation is too great.

Biddie said...

Jessica has a myspace account. She only has people that she (and I ) know on it, and I do pop in now and again to see what's going on.
She is seldom there anyway, she spends most of her time on facebook.
I keep an eye on that, too. She keeps her settings on private and only friends can see her profile..Not even her bio father is a friend and he has no acess.
It is scary though. So many freaks and pervs out there.