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Can MySpace be good for kids?

As kids continue to flock to sites like MySpace, and the backlash from parents and the media fades, it's time to take a fresh look at social networking.

By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff

Teen Fads and Parental Angst

Ah, the ephemeral nature of teen fads. In a few years' time we've witnessed a complete lifecycle of teen enthusiasm, in this case for social networking sites: The word spreads virally, some bad things happen, the media gets into the act, parents react with fear, and boom, you have the Great MySpace Brouhaha of 2006.

"Web of Risks" and "MySpace, A Dangerous Place" are just two of the many negative headlines from the past year. Reports of predators targeting young girls online, of high school kids advertising parties that quickly spiral out of control, of college students being expelled for posting compromising photos of themselves, have contributed to growing alarm among adults.

But in the process, some who've studied the phenomenon say we've lost sight of the benefits that can be had from the demonized social networking sites. As long as parents talk to their kids about the importance of keeping private information private, and monitor their screen time, these sites may help develop creativity and even reading skills, these researchers say.

MySpace Has Redeeming Qualities?

Yes, say educators and researchers who have quickly moved into the fray. With the public's attitude slowly relaxing, many experts now say social networking sites help develop a child's sense of self and provide avenues for creative self-expression.

Although news reports have noted anecdotal evidence that some of the earliest adopters of MySpace, Facebook, Friendster and Xanga appear to be showing signs of social networking fatigue, new waves of youth are continually supplementing the ranks. "MySpace is still frequently used and its usage is growing exponentially," says Sameer Hinduja, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida Atlantic University and co-author with Justin W. Patchin of a study on adolescent usage of MySpace.

Comments from readers

"One condition. You can sure get distracted, disoriented and find your time twittering away."
"preteens should express themselves but always be on the gaurd"
"It's perfectly fine to have a social networking site. You just have to know how to use it. You know, do not talk to people you do not know and if you have children have them do the same. You are the parent and you have every right to monitor who they speak to."
"It's fine to have an account with social networking websites. I'm a mother of a 9 year old, sometimes I socialize over the internet ( with friends and family). I have accounts with quite a few of them. While my daughter is just to young to have accounts with social networking websites, one day she probably will be socializing with friends over the internet, but procautions will be taken. And there will be limits, that's the key (limiting)..."
"I am a teenager and I think myspace is bad that is why I deleted mines If you don't want your child for bad influnece get them out of there Unlike other teens I actually appreciate my parents! and love them. Heck what is wrong with the teens this days embarrising for my kind."
"Social networking was totally new territory and very scary. My 15-year-old has a MySpace and Facebook page. His MySpace and Facebook accounts are private, he use them only to connect with friends they’ve already met in person. Of course, we have to keep an eye on what my kid is doing. We limit my kid’s time spent on the Internet in whole. We set the scheduler to restrict Internet access while we aren’t at home with help of parental control tool called Ez Internet Timer To my mind, it is also important to have a healthy and open relationship with your child, spend time with them while they’re online, educate them about Internet safety, and other parent-child involvement."
"I have a myspace, only because some of my friends don't have facebook. I much prefer facebook because it is cleaner in formatting and its more of a social network for schoolmates. myspace seems more like a place for perverts and sluts who tries to be friends with anybody they find appealing. im not saying everone who has a myspace is one of those people, but there are alot. i just got stalked by a 50 year old guy i once knew before who kept trying to ask me out on myspace and i'm 22. totally creepy and gross. at least with facebook, there are more privacy settings. I feel much safer with facebook where I can block him from finding me since he created a facebook account just to find me. eeewww....."
"hey well myspace can be a place for teenageers where we can just be our selfs with out our parents their!!! that is where my parents first found out i was lesbian it was harrd telling them? so now my parents dont mind that i have it i guess this is a goood reason to have myspace? jk lol not/! it is a place to show poeple who u really are and to meet new people from your school?"
"Seriously, parents are getting annoying with this whole 'oh myspace is the devil thing' first of all its not myspaces fault that your little ten year old got on and put pictures of her in her underwear thats your kids fault. the website didint have a popup saying 'If you dont take nude pictures of yourself your computer will explode and you all will die' of course it didint, so get over the fact that your precious baby is now a little whore and realize that it was their mistake and stop trying to blame it on a web site, Grow up. And i was watching the news and they have all these 'myspace dillemmas' as they call them and there headlines are 'pervets hacking on to innocent girls myspaces, finding their personal information and raping them' im tired of that two i want to watch somthing worth watching on the news its about almost as ridiculous as them doing reports on brittney spears weight gain. Becuase what they dont undertsnad about this is that the little girl will tell you! ' oh yeah my mypsace is private, i dont even know who that guy was' OK all of that is lies what she ment to say is 'mommy im a whore and i was adding older guys so i could look cooler then all my friends and my profile isint private its public so that everyone can see my cool new layout.' and everybody knows im right. so grow up and acceppt the fact that you gave your kid the wrong rules about how to use the internet. tom intended it to be a web communtitie for older teens not 11 years olds and it was intened to help you keep updated on what your friends are doing and to keep intouch with them. so STOP BLAMING THE WEBSITE, its your kids. some of us, like me use the website for its original purposes. my ranting is done, thank you :]"
"well i use to have myspace? thats where my grandparents found out their granddaughter liked gurls im 17 now and i still cant have myspace!!!! i now go on it time to time to seee wat my baby sister puts on it and see if it is back? i mean its not that bad if ur not one of the poeple that add poeple just to have more poeple on your list u might not even know these poeple that how gurls meet over aged men and get in big trouble with them? so when they found out that i was lesbian i couldnt have a myspace any more? so my parents got mad too because thats where i found all my girl friend? but still dont have one i will soon? MYSPACE IS A GREAT WEB SITE FOR TEENAGERS!!! ( u hate me or love me) 210 texas finest"
"im a student &+ i personally think myspace is a piece of crap. it's really stupid and an easy way to get stalked or killed. what's the point of myspace? to have more space? well, if you want more space go to your room or get some fresh air outside. it's healthier than sitting infront of a computer all day sending friend requests to strangers."
"myspace. wowww. it is definetly a very addicting website and it puts kids in places they dont want to be. i had a myspace for a while and i was hiding it from my parents, and then they found out and i got in trouble. and i was so scared that i was losing it, and i thought that i couldnt live without it. thats how attacthed kids get to it, i know, cause i did. but now that i dont have one anymore. i realized that myspace really isnt all that. its a just a website, where you can talk to your friends, and edit your profile and pretending to be someone you arent. like, i mean myspacce and be good if you use it in the right way.but if you dont use it in the right way, then yes parents are right, it is dangerous. but it just depends on your maturity level and how you decide to use it. i think that myspace has way to many people hooked, and that there are manyother ways to contact with friends and family other then myspace or the computer. what happened to being old fashioned. this! new generation has changed so many different people. now all we care about is the media and people are so materialistic. its really sad. myspace is just a hook for teens, and its not that good for them. because they will spend hours in front of the computer messaging,commenting, and posting bulletins, instead of doing something useful and active like playing a sport or something. anyway, it just all depends on how you use it, but in my opinion myspace is just nothing to me. its useless. and its dangerous. but thats just my opinion. "
"im a teenager..and i would have to say that yeah myspace can be a bad place...but its also a place where u can have fun and chat with ur friends...parents should trust us,and knoe tht we wont do the things that they hear on the news..stuff happens..but if they tell kids what could happen then things wont happen..parents cant baby us forever...we need to learn to make smart decisions for ourselves..its a harsh reality"
"Okay, so i am also,a teen. Like many of the other people who made these comments,I Have had a myspace. At first, i thoought the idea was so cool, it's a GREAT way to keep connected to your friends, especilly for those who don't have cell phones. But,The dramma level has gotten out of hand,I can honestly say that 95% of my school has a myspace,which could be supriseing to you parents, but it's our generation. What is on our myspace should be private, parents shouldn't be snooping through them, There's a reason we don't tell our parents EVERYTHING.and what we keep with our friends, is our stuff.My myspace is private, because i AM aware of preditors, i don't put my last name/adress/city/state.and i only add those whom i know, which in my opinion is how it should be.Myspace wasn't ment to be a 'fantacy',it was ment to keep in touch. So i find it completly rediculous to see these girls/guys with 10,000 friends.Now ifyour a parent who has a kid with that many friends on their my! space, then i'd be worried. Because there's no way you can know 10,000 people, obviously..they're bound to be friends with preditors/kreeps. IT IS JUST A PHASE,THEY WILL GROW OUT OF IT. <3Haley, Sophmore."
"MySpace is fun, if you let it be. I think that kids should be able to have a MySpace, because it lets them interact with friends, and let people know a little bit about them. Thing is people post things that tell people information that may lead people to know where you are. That's why I think that kids should be able to have one, but I would make sure that my child didn't put anything personal out. And on myspace, you can set your profile to private so no one can see it, unless they add you as a friend. All of those things that you hear going on, are because kids gave out their information. That's why Myspace has it's pros and cons."
" I think that MySpace is the next big thing. I have first gotten mine in 6th grade. I was sooo sooo happy that day. My trick is, don't be friends with anyone you don't know. All my friends are on my MySpace. That means, I have met them, and have seen them in person for the last 6 months. NOT, that, oh, I met them once, and I really really know them."
"ok so my opinion is that myspace is not necessarily bad.i am a teen but no i do not have a myspace. this is my own decision. i used to have a myspace until i realized what a false reality it is. ppl get on there and try so hard to be someone they rnt and then they end up fooling others. i do believe this site can be used for good if u want it to. so no im not saying it is bad. i do believe it is addicting tho and it should be monitered. U shouldnt spend all of ur time on there bc it is just a web site. but i do have to say it is an excellent way of keepin in touch with friends. but also so is using the telephone and email. i guess it just depends on what kind of person u are and if u can handle the responsibility. "
"myspace isn't bad at all im a sophomore in high school and my 8th grade year i got a myspace. Many of my friends also have myspace i beleive it is a great way to talk to friends and meet new ones. the way my parents see it is as a way to get picked up by pervs. one thing they cant understand is that it is private to those you dont accept i only accept the people that i know. besides i only get on once a week if im lucky nemore so if ppl r going to judge it by the retards that put naked pics or something inappropriate online they should be looked down on not us good kids who only use it to chat!"
"hey i im a teen and i think that myspace is only as bad as u let it be. people are always saying that its is very unsafe , but really myspace gives everyone a choice to be very private .kids and teens dont have to interact with people that they dont kno .i especially like myspace because just about everyone has one and its a great way to catch up and talk to my friends. when i moved away i was able to talk to my friends all the time because of myspace."
"I think myspace is very bad.IM in 6th grade in Mr.Schumpf's class.All my friends have one.I tell them that it's bad, but they dont care.My parents won't let me, even if they did I wouldn't make one.My brother was sneaking on it when he was in 7th and 8th grade, but got cought in 9th grade and got punished.He never went on ever again.Boys and girls who go on try to hook up and think 'oh my gosh, this cute boy asked me if he wanted me to go out with him ' and one day that girl will find out that he's a pervert and and older man using a different pic of someone else.I wish myspace was never created or deleted soon.I want to be unknown plz thnx"
"alright...having a myspace is not as bad as everybody thinks it is. Of course im a teenager that has one, but that has nothing to do with it. Sometimes underaged kids get on myspace and put nasty pics of themselves on there and then they get targeted by pervs. That is totally the kids fault and sometimes it's the parents fault too. they have not taught their kids to be safe on the internet. if the parent would sit down and talk with their kid about safety on the internet and monitor their kids page, then maybe they wont end up on a missing child poster in Walmart. Of course my mother watches what i do on the internet and she always gets on me if im doing anything bad. All im saying is that if at least one of the child's parents would talk to them then they could keep themselves safe. Don't blame the internet, or Myspace at that, if your child gets abducted..."
"The truly bad thing about kids using MySpace is not only that they are posting personal information, but that they are lying to get their accounts in the first place. MS has a minimum age requirement of 14, yet I know DOZENS of 11 and 12 years olds that are lying about their age to get accounts. And they don't just lie and say they are 14; they are saying they are 17, 18, 19 or older!!! With the way society is headed, I wouldn't be surprised if these online predators eventually start beating their raps because they were 'misled' by these kids about their ages to begin with. "
" Both of my Middle school Kids have a myspace, I know there pass codes, but I also have a myspace in which I am friends with them and keep watch on the activity that goes on, on there profile. I have talked to my teens explaining the good and the bad. I am happy with the results, my kids are interacting with the other kids in school better now than before, because they discuss stuff that is going on in school, in each others life's they keep in touch through out the summer. and everyone seems to know each other better and feels more comfortable with each other. My teens are learning new things about the computer, and internet every day, they type well with great speed that impresses me. They do all of this because they want to not because they are forced to learn. My Children already know a lot about the computer they the school tries to teach them and they feel more comfortable in class. computer class is now the fun class to join. I find nothing wrong with myspace, facebook, bebo, ETC as long as the Parent is involved and sits down rules."
"Ok im a student at AKMS and i think what ever is on my Myspace is noones buisness exect mine or my parents,but i have had friends get in trouble at school because of their myspace. My file is viewable by the public and there is nothing on there that will lead someone to me. The kids who are targets are the ones who stupidly put there number,address,ect. on there and then wonder why some prev is stackin them. All i have to say is something i do in my privetcy off myspace shouldnt be brought up by school employess"
"I think the MySpace/internet thing for teens is about much more than just keeping their identity/home address private. First, they should not be messaging people they do not know. Also MySpace has a place to enter which High School they attend, and then they also have a default picture - often trying to 'look grown' and 'sexy' .... so now the preditor knows which school they attend and has their photo! Target! Also, I think parents are so adamant about 'respecting their child's privacy' that they do not know WHAT is going on in their online life. WE are the parents, and they look for us to BE the parent, even when they so struggle for their 'privacy'. I think it's important to have their passwords (or know how to get them if necessary). They can delete a MySpace message, but unless they have emptied their 'trashcan' ... it's still there. If you suspect any dangerous activity going on, I'm not sure 'Tom' can pull back up OLD notes sent/rec'd. My point, monitor their online life, see what photos they are posting, and what they are wearing OR NOT. I had to find out the hard way, that my daughter was on drugs. BE CAREFUL and being a parent is more important, than being liked or accepted. Know what your child is doing, saying and who they call 'friends'."
"wow. myspace is not the's the people who are on it. they use it to lure ppl they dont even kno just to say 'he was hitting on me'. it's the users problem if they put their phone #'s or address and nude pics. myspace bscly, the way i see, b/c im also a teen, is a place to reconnect with ur long lost friend, or if u dont like talking on the phone much or wat so ever, u talk online. i mean, on AIM, ANYBODY can talk to u, anybody can add u, nd myspace u can choose who u want to be friends with. its not the websites fault. its human nature itself. it is very addicting, nd yea it's dangerous, but it only depends on how u use it. they have terms and policies just like every other website, they just have extra features. posting pics online is prety dangerous, b/c you dont kno who hates u and can use ur photo, but it also depends on what photo u take. i've been on a bad road with myspace, but never in my life have i posted nudity, or personal info, or met sumone online.! as teens get older, i believe we have the right to explore. however, it also depends on ur maturity. "
"Myspace is not the problem.. the problem is your kids advertising themselfs as little sluts online. "
"Ya so i think that myspace is pretty cool. We all text and the life of today is more fast pace. Myspace is just a way cool and way easier way to e-mail. I get on when i can, it does not consume my life for the most part. It's mainly something to do during the weekdays. This has replaced MSN. So i think everyone should get a MYSPACE lol! And when you parents were kids what was the big thing for you, yea every parent isn't gonna always like the new things of the world. If you don't want you kid on myspace than that is your decision and if it works that is great. The always say 'Parents know BEST'."
"Ok, Myspace is the dumbest website/obsession ever. Although I am a teenager, i have enough common sense to realize that Myspace is just a website and nothing more. It's is this little 'fad' that everyone buys into (even myself) and checks daily. Here is where I start to get confused... What are you parents thinking?! Seriously! It's a website. It is not a 'Porn Trap' or anything like that. To be perfectly honest, even if it were, your precious little kid(s) isn't(aren't) oh so perfect. We are teenagers, we are humans, and we will be immature. If you shelter your child from all the bad things in life, your kid isn't going to understand anything when he grows up. They will most likely become a drug user or some bum that I laugh at when I drive by. The point i'm trying to make is... That if your child gets taken away by a predator or something along those lines, it is their fault, not the web site's. A web site can not and will not decide the fate of your poor little retarded child. If your daughter posts nide pics on Myspace, that is her fault. So why are we banning Myspace in schools because these stupid little kids are lying about how old they are and crap? Why are parents trying to ban something that they no absolutely nothing about? If you don't want your kid going online and you want to hid them from the world, fine, do what you want, but KEEP IT TO YOURSELF! I do agree with those rules. Never post things that are to personal. Plus, Myspace has made things a little bit safer, by making your profile private and by having to approve your comments. Parents take things way to far sometimes. IT'S ONLY A WEBSITE! This is what life is, it's not what it was when you were a teen, or maybe it was, whats for me to say how you grew up. Nothings perfect. Just be more accepting your children's choices, if they want to drink... let them learn the hard way. They'll grow up eventually and realize that smoking and drinking just isn't cool. They'll have to get a job someday. I'm sure you want your children to become successful, as does everyone, but you can't swing them all the way threw life. They need to learn alot of stuff on their own. *Sorry if I dragged this out, it just happens.*"
"I think myspace is good and I can see why parents get so worked up and dont allow their kids to have it..... just for the sake of talking to people that they do not know. I think that a parent should know their child enough to trust them and for the child to listen to the rules that are set. A child should also know the dangers of mysapce and take that into consideration... therefore they should not post pictures of themselves( half naked pictures) for the whole world to see. Also they should only talk to friends. By the time a child is 11 or possibly 12 they should know what is expected and what is not expected of them.... so I think that parents should let their child have a myspace... in the end they will end up having one anyway and will get in trouble for not obeying their parents(althogh it was a dumb rule) Also parents should look at their childs myspace and just make sure there are no innappropiate things downloaded, but at the same time respect their child and do no! t invade thier privacy. So basically if you are a parent struggling on letting your child have a myspace,see if your chid is responsible and if not then you need to think about whether or not your child is ready for a myspace and if you are a child trying to get your parents to let you get one just tell them you know the dangers and explain that you will be responsible in downloading things and talking to people and that they can look at the page without invading your privacy. I am only 12 and I do not have a myspace(although I believe I should, but I have to show my parents that I am responsible first) ps... if you know you brought your child up right then you need to trust them... myspace rocks :)"
"Micemaze ® is tired, not wired . Facebook is where the action is these days, it seems. Chat's been around since Banyan Vines® started it in 1992. There are choke great sites for kids, parents, and teachers; educators. Just try or search on dot EDU (.edu) , alo'ha, (=>* "