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View December 2006 Issue >>
 

MXit - All You Need To Know

 

What is it?

MXit is an instant messaging service provider where users can send and receive messages at only 2c a message.

 

When did it start and why don’t I know about it?

It was founded less than a year ago and most people don’t know about it simply out of ignorance.  Children are much more aware of the latest technological  developments than most adults.

 

Where do my children get it?

The software is downloaded onto a cellphone from the internet.  Any cell phone that is GPRS/3G enabled can download the software.

 

Why the big fuss?

MXit has attracted more than 1.8 million users between the ages of 12 and 25.  Subscribers log in more than 5 million times a day to send more than 140 million messages.  It easily becomes an addiction for teenagers and paedophiles alike.

 

How does it work?

Once the software is downloaded, the user can log in to MXit, join a chat room and send and receive messages.

 

USEFUL WEBSITES INCLUDE:

www.mxit.co.za

www.bbc.co.uk

www.chatdanger.com

www.onlinesafety.org.za

 

MXit is raising concerns over the safety of our children, many fearing that it is a product that could lead children right into the hands of paedophiles. 

A sexual predator recently lured a 16-year old schoolgirl using MXit and then abducted her for 5 days. In an ironic twist, the police used the same service to catch the perpetrator.

The approximately 3 million parents of teenagers who use MXit are justifiably seeking the facts.  What is MXit and is it the real problem?  It is important to steer clear of the sensationalism and seek understanding of the situation in order to find the truth.

MXit is a service provider which enables one to send text messages to and from cell phones and computers.  It is inexpensive - only 2c a message – which makes it nearly 50 times more affordable than sending a regular SMS.  Children are becoming addicted to ‘SMSing’; whereas previously they could get 35 SMSs on a R30 recharge voucher, they can now get 1500. On the one hand, it is innovative, empowering and a success story, but on the other hand it is dangerous, addictive and problematic.

MXit provides cover for paedophiles because users use pseudonyms and can therefore profess to be someone else. But SMSs, telephone conversations, e-mails and internet chat rooms are also anonymous and can therefore also be abused by criminals to establish contact with young people.  MXit itself is not the problem here.  The problem is that children (and usually their parents) are naive and uninformed and need to be educated about the dangers of chatting via SMSs or online.

MXit does not know the content of each of the 140 million daily text messages.  The only way to keep potentially harmful messages from reaching your child is to be conscientious in teaching your children about the dangers and to

be alert to any warning signs that they are, in fact, communicating with a possible dangerous person.  Hosea 4:6 says, “My people perish for lack of knowledge.” Let’s equip ourselves with as much knowledge as possible so that we can protect our children. Let’s look at some solutions to the problem:

 

WHAT SHOULD YOU TEACH YOUR CHILDREN?

  1. Only give your cell phone number to  people you already know and trust. 
  2. Only SMS people who are already in your address book and have been approved by your parents.
  3. Respect your friends’ privacy and don’t give out their cell phone numbers to anybody.
  4. Never reply to text messages from people you don’t know.
  5. Don’t post your profile online.
  6. Never give out your address, phone number, or photo in a chat room.

EDUCATE YOURSELF

  1. Learn to recognise the warning signs that your child is involved with a stranger – constant SMSing, receiving or making calls to numbers you don’t know, secretiveness.
  2. Find out as much information as you can.  See ‘Useful Websites’ Guide.
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