What I didn't know about my daughter's online world
Ms Jasmine Hu, 40, who has two teenage daughters
I NEVER knew my 13-year-old daughter would have the guts to go out with a stranger she met online.
I knew Sandra spent a lot of time on the Internet. Usually, it's a couple of hours every night to catch up with her friends through MSN Messenger, a chat application.
But as it turns out, there's plenty more that goes on that I didn't know about.
For one thing, I didn't know she had profiles on two social networking sites, Friendster and Facebook.
I didn't know that online, she had over 200 'friends', some of whom she had never met before in real life.
I also didn't know that she had posted on the Internet photos of herself, and had declared on her profile that she was 'looking for friends'.
I was distraught. In my mind, I could only think of what perverts might have done with those photos.
I found out about Sandra's date with a boy she 'met' on Friendster six months ago. They had gone to a movie. I knew this after reading messages he had sent her on her cellphone.
According to Sandra, he's the cousin of a friend who's a neighbour of her classmate in school.
He had told her he was 15. But when I called to confront him, he sounded like he was in his early 20s. He spoke Hokkien fluently, and didn't shy from showing it.
Immediately, I sat down with Sandra and my other daughter, Marissa, who's 14 years old. I told them to be careful of strangers online as they might not be who they say they are.
To make my point, I signed up for Facebook, and created a fake profile. Presto! I became 'Iris', a 24-year-old woman from Indonesia.
After I exchanged a few online messages with some men I didn't know, I said to my two daughters: 'They think I am a beautiful, single Malay woman. But am I?
'You never know who's on the other side of the screen.'
I forbade either of them to meet anyone they knew only through the Internet. I also set some new rules: no use of the Web unless I'm home, and no cellphone use after 8pm.
It's been six months since the incident, and my girls have earned my trust again. But I still visit their online profiles now and then to see if anything funny is going on.
Technology is the greatest challenge to parenting in modern society.
Teens today can't live without the Internet.
As parents, neither can we.
A good article for parents with teenage children.
Parents with teenage girls, watch out
Parental influence on children in the first 12 years of their lives have a permanent effect. Unfortunately, children come with no user manual. Each child is different from the other. Discuss how to handle emotional and educational needs of your child here.