Thursday, June 15, 2006

MySpace or Bad Parenting?

I'm sure that by now you've heard about Katherine Lester, the 16-year-old who lied to her parents about needing a passport for a trip to Canada, then hopped on a plane for Jordan to meet and marry 20-year-old Abdulla Jinzawi, some guy she met on MySpace.com. If you don't already know, MySpace is popular on-line social network for teenagers.

I don't know who is more stupid here, Katherine or her parents. I know teenagers think they know everything while being amazingly naive, but this takes the cake. According to the latest news on this story, Family of Mideast Man Upset By MySpace Teen Bride's No-Show, she was supposed to sign a marriage contract as soon as she got off the plane, convert to Islam (wear a head covering, etc.), and live with Abdulla and his family in Jericho. This girl clearly has no idea of the cultural and religious mores that she would be expected to live by, or the danger of simply being an American in the Middle East. (Disclaimer: I know not all Muslims are terrorists; I know that not all Muslim/Middle Eastern cultures treat women as property/second class citizens; however, life in Jericho would be very different than life in Michigan and Katherine probably doesn't realize how difficult returning to the US might be if she changes her mind later).

Katherine's parents and family are stunned. They had no idea what she was planning, or how she could simply get on a plane and end up in the Middle East. Duh. Flying doesn't have an age requirement. Aren't they more concerned about where she got the money for the ticket and hotels? Didn't they know what she was doing on the Internet and who she was talking to? I know that since I'm not a parent some people will say I don't have right to criticize, that parents can't watch their kids every minute, etc. Based on observations of my friends with children, I beg to differ. Parents can and should know what web sites their kids are visiting and who they are talking to.

Katherine's parents obviously didn't do that. They must have also missed the April 9 episode of Dateline: MySpace Invader: A police detective shows teens and their parents that they're not as safe on MySpace as they think. They also clearly never visited MySpace, nor read its Safety Tips for users or Tips for Parents (which includes a link to remove their child's profile from MySpace).

If Katherine's stupidity was unbelievable, her parents' was even worse. No wonder the family is hiding from the media! All I know is this: if she belonged to one of my friends (or my brother!) she'd never be allowed to use the Internet again.

7 comments:

amanda. said...

Hey, hey, HEY! MySpace is a popular on-line social network for internet junkies. Most of your students are also on MySpace, and I haven't been a teenager for 3 years now! :o)

The Cat Bastet said...

True. After seeing that Dateline episode I guess I've been thinking of it in terms of teenage users.

Since you use it, maybe you can answer a question for me. I know you have to be 14 to use it, but does MySpace verify that in any way?

MySpace, Facebook, blogs... it's a wonder we get any work done!

dr/tbb said...

I found it interesting how, in the account I read, no mention was made of the parents being divorced. The article did mention they lived apart from each other, which makes it possible they are only separated, but my suspicions are aroused as to whether the article itself simply did not wish to convey any association of divorce (or for that matter, separation) with subsequent child-rearing difficulties.

The Cat Bastet said...

Interesting. I hadn't thought about the divorce element.

Did you see the story in the Flint Journal last weekend about the parents who DO monitor their kids' MySpace accounts?

dr/tbb said...

Didn't see the story in the Flint Journal, but there is a column by Debbie Schlussel today dealing with Muslim marriage scams:
http://www.debbieschlussel.com/archives/2006/06/ticket_to_ride.html

The Cat Bastet said...

Thanks, dr/tbb! I hadn't seen Debbie Schlussel's blog before, but I added a link to it in my June 21 post "How NOT To Start a Life Together."

Based on the bit of Debbie Schlussel's bio and blog I read today, I approve.

dr/tbb said...

Yet another story, yesterday, about Katherine Lester's appearance in court, by the Associated Press ("Court Won't Supervise MySpace Teen"), and again the "d" word is nowhere to be found. Again it can be gleaned that the parents live in separate residences, but even the "s" word (separation) does not appear. The reach of political correctness apparently extends farther than I had realized. Perish the thought, that divorce could possibly have any effect on children's behavior!

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060629/ap_on_re_us/myspace_mideast