Daughter Joined Multiple Dating Sites.

by on October 31, 2007

Q: My underage daughter has joined multiple online dating sites. I need to know if there is a way to search multiple single sites at the same time using her username. Please, if you could help me, I’d be most grateful.

A: I share the concern that you must be feeling for your daughter’s wellbeing. The internet can indeed be a dangerous place for unsuspecting young people — boys and girls alike. Let me start with some common-sense advice. If your daughter’s computer is currently in her bedroom or another secluded place in your house, move it! Relocating the computer to a public area such as a living room or den will drastically reduce your daughter’s ability to get herself into trouble online, if there is someone such as you home to watch her that is.

If you haven’t done so already, you may want to create a password for your daughter’s computer and do not tell her the password so that you can control when she accesses the computer and therefore the internet. Furthermore, you may even want to go so far as to give your daughter her own user account with limited privileges — again, you control the password. In Microsoft Windows, you will use something known as the Control Panel to accomplish these tasks. Microsoft provides a guide entitled How to create and configure user accounts in Windows XP. The procedure will be similar in almost every version of Windows.

If you are using a Mac with OS X, you will go to the Blue Apple symbol and then System Preferences -> Accounts. As in Windows, you can create user accounts with limited privileges on the Mac. It is pointless to discuss disabling the internet on your daughter’s computer, as most young people today can bypass locks on specific programs in mere moments. Of course, there is not any substitute for a concerned parent having a good old-fashioned conversation with his/her daughter about right and wrong, or at the very least legal and illegal. It is, of course, illegal for a minor to join most dating websites.

Now, regarding your original question, what I have discovered about online dating sites is that most of them are very protective of their users’ privacy. Chances are basically zero that you will ever be able to steal your daughter’s usernames from these dating websites. I’m guessing that your daughter is not going to give you her usernames and passwords. So, what this means is that you will have to create a user account for yourself on all of the websites your daughter has joined in order to access her profiles. Furthermore, even joining the websites yourself will probably not give you full access to your daughter’s profiles. For instance, I doubt that you will be able to see the profiles of those who have been communicating with your daughter on these sites, or gain access to the content of their conversations.

A better way to proceed is probably to report your daughter as a minor to the various sites she has joined. Provided that she joined these sites from a computer in your home, it should be easy for you to prove to these websites that your daughter is a minor. Presuming that you live in the USA or a country with similar laws in place to protect young people, the websites will have no choice but to suspend your daughter’s accounts. Indeed, you may even be able to request that these dating websites ban the creation of future accounts from computers in your home. To do this, you will also need to consult with your internet service provider (ISP) to request what is called a static IP address. You will also want to request that your account ID remain the same. A static IP address and an account ID that never changes may allow the dating websites to identify your computers in such a manner as to block connections from them. A dynamic IP address, on the other hand, changes often. Some ISPs use account IDs that are related to your IP address to identify your computer on the internet. Others use account IDs that are totally unrelated to your IP address. Contact your ISP for more information. Also, be aware that your daughter can bypass such a block by connecting to something called a proxy server. A web-based utility such as Shields Up will allow you to identify your current IP address and account ID.