MySpace: A place for parents?

County sets up account to give advice to young moms and dads

Anyone with children knows the joys of parenting are matched only by the challenges.

Annie can help young parents overcome those challenges. She is available 24/7, on MySpace.

A fictitious character, Annie is modeled after a trusting figure in a young woman’s life: Her grandma. Annie’s bio-box lists her as being 54 years old and from Grand Junction.

In reality Annie is a compilation of several volunteers who monitor the Web site, myspace.com/gotkidsneedhelp. The Web page, up and running now for a couple weeks, is a product of the How Are The Children initiative and is intended to be a way to reach a new generation of parents familiar with the Internet.

“MySpace was a great way to reach them,” said Heather Benjamin, chairwoman of the drug-endangered children committee with the Mesa County Meth Task Force. “It is just a fun way to connect parent to parent.”

The page invites parents to share their troubles, get advice and communicate with other parents.

“I believe that parenting is difficult at times, but worth it,” says Annie in a posting on her page.

“I don’t know everything, but I do know a lot about parenting and caring for children of all ages. If you have a question, comment, observation, or suggestion about parenting and kids, please share those with me. Together we can make this world a better place!”

Tom Hunn is one of six volunteers who take turns monitoring the site. Every Tuesday, in between running his jewelry business, is Hunn’s turn as Annie. He has taught parenting classes in the Grand Valley for more than 20 years and writes a parenting advice column for a local newspaper.

“This is like a gift from the community to the community. This is really a smart way to have 10 to 15 smart aunts and uncles that will help you in any way they can with your parenting issues,” Hunn said.

Jody Tate, a counselor at a local elementary school and a busy working mother, has had one turn as the cyber-granny Annie so far. She took her laptop computer to a wrestling match to monitor Web traffic, watch her son compete and her husband coach.

“That is probably how it will have to work for me,” she said.

Answers to questions from parents may not be responded to immediately. Some of the questions might require the monitor to consult an expert, of which there are several in the community, Tate said.

County Commissioner Janet Rowland, founder of the How Are The Children initiative, was instrumental in developing the Web page. She said giving Annie the guise of a grandmother was well thought out.

“The person that women age 17 to 24 turn to most for advice, and who they trust the most, is their grandmother,” Rowland said. “So while the 23-year-old mother of two might not read the paper, her grandma does and will tell her about the MySpace.”

Good advice, grandma.


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