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June 30, 2010

Safety Gates on the Internet?

Yoursphere Test Drive Mom

As a young mom I safety proofed my house, used car safety seats until the kids were 8 years old, held hands when we crossed a parking lot, and cut their food in to teeny tiny pieces. You might think that I would be relieved to remove the last door knob cover, but safety proofing doesn’t end when your child can open a door. Now that my children are no longer babies, toddlers, and preschoolers, why would I let down my guard?

When my oldest first asked to go online she was about 5 or 6. She had heard a commercial. She desperately wanted to go to Nickjr.com to play Blues Clues. I sat with her as she clicked around in the games. l taught her to stay on the Nick website. Her Nick days faded when a friend told her about Club Penguin. Club Penguin was pushed aside when Webkinz hit Hallmark stores and everywhere. Webkinz were the Silly Bandz of 2008.

The pull of Webkinz faded for my daughter when she was about 10. She desperately wanted her own e-mail. She needed to start a web page. She wanted to play games that were for bigger kids. Had she heard about Facebook she would have wanted an account. I was not ready for all these new endeavors.

As a 5th grader she started a website before I started blogging. How funny is that? The kid is a trailblazer! She created a class newspaper online by recruiting her friends as correspondents. She even had a "Dear Abby" column. Sadly we had to close the comments on her website as several classmates posted rude and inappropriate comments. So sad that a few bad apples spoiled it for the rest of her class.

I let her have an e-mail in 6th grade...with a great deal of monitoring and hand wringing on my part. But, Facebook was a no go. She begged. She pleaded. Apparently every 6th and then 7th grade friend was on Facebook. Many kids on Facebook lied about their ages and the schools they attended -- if in elementary or middle school, the kids would list our local high school as their school. I held firm.

I discovered Yoursphere.com over a year ago. Yoursphere is a social network site for kids, tweens, and teens that is for kids only. No adults. Parents can sign up their kids for Yoursphere, but must go through an online security program.

Yoursphere was an alternative to Facebook. My daughter got to play on a site that wasn’t babyish, while I had the reassurance that she was in a safe environment online. A win for both of us.

Moms of kids, preteens, and teens may want to know that Yoursphere is now FREE.

Jill blogs about #onlinesafety #kids #tweens #teens and #notatechie at Musings from Me. She was a Yoursphere Test Drive Mom for Mom Central on behalf of Yoursphere. She received a free lifetime Gold membership on Yoursphere.com, Yoursphere t-shirts, and a $50 American Express gift card to facilitate her review.

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