HomeAcademics & ActivitiesMedia Matters

Can MySpace Be Good for Teens?

Page 3 of 5

By Marian Wilde , GreatSchools Staff

... the bad ...

Just as some experts extol the virtues of social networking sites and online communities, others aren't having any of it. Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, disputed this idea in a recent issue of The Atlantic Monthly: "If I was competing with the United States, I would love to have the students I was competing with spending their time on this kind of crap," he says. "[P]eople are fooling themselves that they're being creative in these spaces."

No matter how you assess the value of online creativity, the privacy issue is still the paramount concern for most parents of social-networking teens. During this past summer, Hinduja and Patchin set out to study just how dangerous MySpace is.

"The purpose of our research was to find out if kids really were posting personal information, and we found out that they weren't that much. Although only a very small percentage of teen users did post phone numbers, that's still too many because those few teenagers have rendered themselves vulnerable to victimization. We definitely want to educate teens in this regard. But the danger was blown out of proportion by the media," says Hinduja.

Magid, co-author of MySpace Unraveled, commends MySpace for listening to the concerns of parents. "I think the company is serious about safety. They've made it possible for anybody of any age to have a private profile. But their issue is that if they come down too hard on security, the kids will lose interest. MySpace has to keep it edgy to keep their customers happy."

Could it be that parents today are overly risk averse? Magid thinks so. "For better or worse, we're raising a generation of bubble-wrapped kids," says Magid. "Risk is part of the learning process. You want to manage the risk so that your kids don't do something that they'll regret, but it's a tight-rope walk. When I traveled when I was younger I didn't have a cell phone, but now I'm nervous when I lose track of my grown son for two days."

Monitoring a teen's online activities and yet giving her enough space to develop independence and good judgment is one of the more difficult balancing acts of parenting. Another is knowing when to restrict certain social influences, and many parents would consider MySpace to be a minefield of negative influences. From the casual usage of "ho" and "pimp" to sexually suggestive photos to references to drinking, drugs and casual sex, many parents are not thrilled with the culture on much of MySpace.

MySpace does have staff policing the site for violations of their rules. A MySpace representative stated in an email that, "MySpace dedicates a third of our workforce to monitoring our site on a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week basis. MySpace has developed a series of initiatives designed to protect our users against inappropriate conduct and content, including reviewing every image hosted by our site - more than 2 million every day - using our dedicated customer care team as well as algorithms and search engines to identify and purge inappropriate material."

Although MySpace takes these precautions, it's still a wide-open public forum and, ultimately, it's up to the MySpace community to enforce the rules. MySpace users can report any images that they feel are inappropriate by clicking on "Report This Image" under profile images.

Comments from readers

"Ok myspace is not bad if you add the right people and talk too people you know."
"Myspace is fine, but you really need to know your limits on there. It can be pretty dangerous, especially if you set it to public and not private. I set mine to private and people need to know my last name or e-mail address in order to add me a friend on myspace. Just be careful on myspace."
"i really think myspace is okay but some people on myspace is using it wrong. like for an example girls and boys putting bad pics on myspace. myspace can you into trouble. myspace has been on the news before."
"hey if their is no myspace what could most teens do for scocializing with others in other states. And if teens can't do that why would they do it with e-mail I use e-mail and it is boring, myspace gives you a chance to meet new people and give you a chance to make your page look how you want it."
"My space is just trouble. Have you been in my space? The pictures of some of these teenage girls. I'm real glad I know about computers but alot of parents do not know what is really going on. Some because they do not know how to work computers others come home late from work and have no idea what is going on. My daughter was lied to by a girl saying it was a boy. I did my homework as a parent and found out about it. I even found out where she lived and spoke to her mom to let her know what was going on. My daughter could not believe it. If I could get information so could any sicko out there. We need to spend quality time with our kids and of course talk, talk, talk, talk, to them. They will always remember something you said, (Dont you remember what your parents told you, even if at that time you did not agree!)."
"I'm fourteen. I don't have a myspace, though I do have a facebook. There's no particular reason why I don't have a myspace, I've just never really bothered, but a few of my friends have one. I don't think that Myspace is a good thing or a bad thing. It's simply a new form of communication. It's made it easier for harmful things to happen, but at the same time it's made communicating so much easier. Honestly, I don't think that Myspace (or any other company) can be blamed for kids being 'preyed' on. Believe it or not, it's really, really, easy to be safe on these kinds of websites. Leave off personal information and set your site to private. It's not that hard. I do have to say that you should NEVER give your password to ANYONE. One of my friends (person A) gave her password to just one of her really good friends (person B), and they had an argument, and person B went onto her myspace. She changed all the hard work person A had put into it, mailed all her friends really slutty stuff, and posted that person A was obsessed with this one boy. I think that you just need to make sure you really know your friend (watch what they do to other people that they're mad at) before you give them your password. The girl who did this was a you-know-what anyway. I also think that kids have been backstabbing each other for hundreds of years, Myspace doesn't change that, it's just a new way to do it. The thing that I love about Facebook (and Myspace and all) is that you can keep up with friends that you normally wouldn't talk to much. Myspace isn't a bad thing, all it requires is a little common sense. "
"I agree with article 100%. But I have one quick Question why do some parents judge myspace by what they hear on the news,from a family member or maybe a friend. Instead go online for themselves and see that not all teens are using myspace like they think we are and that there are teens that there are teens who are actual using myspace to talk to friends and even founding old friends from like middle school and maybe from there old place of stay after moving. I mean me personly think that parents should stop think and ask theirself are they overreacting just a little bit."
"What type of time limits are parents setting for my space and IM-ing?, and how can you keep your child from IM-ing when they are doing homeowrk online? (Other than constantly looking over their shoulder). My child is obseesed with these two avenues of commuication with his peers and is very difficult to monitor when on the computer. "
"i am a myspace user and i love it!! i know better than giving out my personal information because my mom taught me not to!! so if your smart enough myspace isn't a bad website its a good way to keep in touch with friends and family in diffrent places!!!"
"I think that is good for teenagers because you can communicate with different teens and get to know other people from different towns that you may visit every once in a while. But the bad part about is that teenagers tend to compete with each other and check their every 5 minutes just waiting for someone to reply back to a message or comment. I personally like because I can talk to my friends that live out of town and I can keep up with their lives and how they've been doing. "
"What I am curious about is why teens are suddenly so much more vunerable than anyone else. The fact that they can be approached by 'predators' on myspace is rubbish, that can happen to them just by going outside. It's true. The problem doesn't come from myspace, but rather your relationship with your child. For example if you think something bad will happen to your child... no, your teenager, rather on myspace, it can be honest concern and you could ask nicely about it. The easier method is to get into an argument about it, of course if you try and be all nice and buddy-like that might not work.Also, I ask you, would you like someone to keep watching you? Noting down who you talk to and make friends with? There is also a problem with being too intrusive. Also an argument against MySpace is it's public, but so isn't everything? I saw someone once, well a few times, I saw thhem in passing. I didn't have to ask anyone and I got their full name, what schools they went to, and after all that I found her MySpace (where I promptly apologised). and websites like that could have helped me found where she lived for God's Sake. But her MySpace profile it told me next to nothing in comparison! . In fact if I asked one of her friends, I could have probably found out alot more. MySpace is, in fact, very safe, easy to use. And as for what they get up to on it, just view their profile (you don't even need a password for that if it's public), to see what theyare getting up to, it's a lot easie than if they have been out all night taking God knows what with God knows who and getting up to God knows what. It's just safer all round. For God's sake give teenagers some space (note the title: MySpace, not MineandMyParent'sSpace), see this is the relationship thing again. TRUST! By restricting someone's freedoms you fuel anger and hate, this leads to a child wishing to rebel (it's true think about it logically, would you accept having freedoms taken away from you), teenagers aren't naive little creatures that need protecting, beliee it or not they are quite mature BECAUSE they have all this technology (like the intrnet, myspace, ect.), they adapt to it and in doing so become more mature. It's a shame some adults are trapped in their ways and can't embrace the change like the younger generation. And please, please, please (directed at crazy person with the really long comment) see the difference between being involved (like close) and supervising them 24/7."
"What many parents do not know when you talk about supervision on myspace is that kids will gladly give you access to thier profile. Then many many of them also have a second one mom and dad have no clue about. Kids keep these seperate by 'key words' shared among friends/favorites and the supervised profile is 'clean' and shows that johnny or sally are being good kids on the internet. Dont be fooled by myspace and the potential problems it creates. A recent study by the Orlando computer crimes division shows that if your child is online they have a 100% chance of being approached by a predator at some point in time, further more the pictures posted BY our kids ONLINE while in a 'private' or public profile do in fact belong to and CAN be made PUBLIC by the owners of myspace anytime, READ the small print. "
"Ok, I'm under 13 years old and I go to IMVU...a place that is similar to myspace. I don't think its dangerous at all...Just keep your info private."
"Myspace in my opinion is actually a godo thing for student slike me and my friends who are mature and understand the concept of when to stop im 14 and I have one. People are targetting Myspace alot but parents when you think about it, it can be the only means of communications between long term friendships that split because of distance i hope you hear me out Myspace is not a bad thing if you know how to use it. It's true there are some freaks out there according to news reports buit myspace requires kids to at least be 14 n if little kids lie about there age then leave that to the parents they shouldn't leave there kids unsupervised especially on a website that has millions of vieweres that all aren't nice little angels. Also parents if you do accept your child to have myspace you should get one too, its good for networking and things like that, the pros of myspace are way greater then the cons of it."
" It really bothers me when I read things like 'my daughter had a really bad experience on myspace' but I came to the rescue and made everything okay. Your daughter may be more immature than most 14 yr olds but if she'not, you had the perfect chance to let her grow a little and clean up her own space. I have two teens who use myspace. I've come to accept it as this generation's extension of the telephone,,in other words, another social tool. Just like the telephone of days past, they will say and act out privately on this site. What a safe form of freedom,,theyre sitting in front of a screen."
"in reply to a mother who wrote a novel....i strongly disagree....i believe that it allows my children to express themselves and be creative....i have a myspace as well and the funny thing is that my childrens friends visit my site and add me to their friends...i find this allows me to keep watch on my children but give them the benefits of independence and risk taking as well.....i am also very open with my children about sex and drugs and the risks they would take if they mess with either one of them...i am a labor and delivery nurse and i see many young women every day older and younger than my 16 year old daughter....i go home and tell her the stories...not to scare her but to remind her to make good choices"
"I liked the 'bubble wrapped' kids quote. I'm more worried that my kids will lack the independence and risk taking nature that they need to be successful in their world than whatever pitfalls are waiting for them on the Internet and Myspace. "
"I think its very naive to jump the gun and delete your child's account from myspace assuming that they are in contact with internet predators. I am a mother of a 14 year old daughter and her myspace cannot be accessed by ANYONE unless they request to be her friend and you must know their last name to even be allowed to request them as a friend. This feature is automatically applied when a person signs up for myspace under the age of 18. I have talked to my child about the dangers of internet predators and she showed me that her age on her myspace is 14. I know that she cannot and will not do anything dangerous on myspace and I check her myspace every two weeks to make sure of that. I do it with her knowing, I dont sneak into her myspace."
"Bravo! This article accepts teens wants and explains parents well. I too monitor my daughter's internet I monitor all her connections...knowing I cannot change everything she comes into contact with... MySpace is a area where many teens feel free to be themselves. The schools have to deal with the bad stuff...but parents should be able to remember their youth and analyze what their children are getting out of their experiences. In this arena, yes, I have monitored...and even been accepted (and moved up on the friend list)...of my daughter and her friends. I take care not to take advantage, or embarrass (a REAL downer-probably a really OLD expression) daughter or her friends...but TOTALLY enjoy her (and her friends) willingness to let me be a part of their life. Another dimension...many could find a 'glass half full'.From: Another parent trying to find the right path for her teenager."
"I think myspace can be bad and good. I mean you can keep in touch with family and friends, and express yourself in your own page. You can get comments through the day and they really do help you feel good about yourself. You can find old friends through the search and browse for people like you. But myspace can be bad. You shouldn't just add anyone. There can be predators and pedifiles on there pretending to be someone younger and sweeter. Never add someone you dont know. Your sight can also be hacked like mine was and password changed. So now I share one with my boyfriend just in case. Also men can take your pictures and post them on other websitesin a frightening way. Make sure if anything happens to tell a trusted adultfor help!!! Be careful, keep it clean, and STAY CAUTIOUS!!! From, Brittany Dunson-- Springfield High School"
"'I who has a daughter part 2. Responding to the other letters on this sight. To the 14 year old. Yeap! You're correct, I see a lot of spelling errors too! Including my own because I didn't edit like a scholar. I noticed an exclaimation point in the middle of a few words. All I can say to you is be safe, and be careful. And to the other parents who posted about having their childrens account locked as private. My daughter had her's set up the same way, but was emailed from this so called circle of friends- porn. The site is not for my family. I did check out the other sites, some teens may find it 'lame' and others may like it or even love it if other friends would be willing to sign up. I'll pass on the information to my daughter's friends to have them 'check it out' and give me a rating on it. I'll let you know in the future about the results. Thank You"
"Ok.i am a teen, 14.Some people are out on my space being sluts or whatever, but most aren't. Many kids only talk to people they know on myspace(as do I ),like when i get something about my space account and i dont recognize the address i just delete it.Some kids are not too slick or something, but as long as you think before you make certain choices myspace seems fine to me(the same goes for pretty much anything else on the web). And also how is it that you are all parents concerned for your childs education but I am always seeing many of you misspell words on this board?"
"As a parent of two teenagers, I'm very apprehensive regarding 'myspace.' I worry abouttheir safety, security, and above all privacy. This article helped to put me at ease regarding this controversial website. Thank you. s.bains "
"I for one who has a daughter who has had a bad experience on MYSpace. The end results, I deleted her account. First of all she is a straight A student, is a member of the Beta Club, and stays involved with after school activities. She has been a wonderful student, peer to others, and daughter. She even wants to start taking college classes the minute she hits high school. It all started to unravel with what seemed to be an inocent email from another friend who was on her list. She was emailed porn pictures with some things I as an adult wouldn't even look at! Yes, I had parent controls on, and yes, I monitor her sight as an agreement we had with each other. She was so shocked about the pictures that she tried to delete them from her sight, and to delete them from the mail address bar. The address bar tells all, it tells you what websites that have been surfed, it tells when, and everything! Also your temporary online files do the same. When she opened it up, it took h! er to about 15 other websites. To things she didn't want to see. I spent hours deleting everything out of my computer as well as scanning for viruses. So I don't support, nor condone MYSPACE for teens. Your child can be exposed at any given time. It's up to us, as parents to protect and do what is right for our children. They can always surf the web for resources related to school, projects, and information through reputable sites located on the library sites. The internet for a young adult should be used for acedimic purposes only. I strongly feel this way, because I'm a caring, consistant, moral parent. I gave MYSPACE the benefit of the doubt, and even with monitoring, supervision, and careful instructions we still were subjected to immoral acts. She didn't want MYSPACE anymore as well. So we deleted the account together. She told the peers (more than one teen) who emailed her those pics about how wrong and immoral they were, and that she doesn't hang out with ! others who do that. She was floored at how many peers in her ! school t hat are sexually active. She no longer associates with those peers. They all have an account with myspace, in fact I could be writing about your child. Do you know the warning signs of teens being sexually active? Research has proved the numbers are dropping due to education, and the drive for success. The numbers can come down even more if parents monitor their children more, stay involved with them, and being straight up with the facts about sex before marriage, STD's, and the benefit's they will gain. It's one of the most difficult tasks on being a parent. It really is, and if I didn't put a stop to MYSPACE, who knows she may or may not seeked out more just from being a curious teen. Curiosity is what gets them started in the first place. Adolesent Psychology is a good starting point on learning how to deal with your teen. If your child is younger, it would be to your advantage to seek out this information early so you can prepare both of you for what is to come.! I'm one of the lucky one's that can say- 'I'm open enough with my daughter to talk about sex' When the questions start, is when it's time ( most of the time )to start educating them, not when they are teens, but when they are curious with concrete questions, you know the kind, the kind that makes you feel uncomfortable, and all you want to do is dodge it, or make light of it. Yeah, those kind of questions. I started educating my daughter at about 10. I took out a book to show her where babies come from, and I let her read it. She learned the science part of it, that was the best way I knew how to educate her. Avoiding the possibilies of her learning from other kids, and the slang that comes with it. Books are still the best way to educate them. Learning on the internet is good, I agree, however with all the dangers and their 'good' nature and intent that they have, can lead them down the wrong path, because kids have a tendecy to trust the person on the other end of th! e computer. They are nieve to dangers. So for me and my family! , MySpac e is out. I however like the other websites that were offered on this article. I'll jot them down and check them out myself before allowing my children to go there. Thank you"
"thank you for the above info. my husband will not allow myspace to be accessed from our home computer. he feels that it is too dangerous,because of the media exposure. i am in the same room with my 14 yr old when she accesses the computer 95% of the time. she is aware of the dangers that lerk on the internet. she is always very careful what she says and to whom she chats with.she will only talk w/her friends. your article was very informative. "
"I'm a mother of a teenage daughter who use myspace and I myself is also a myspace user as well and we have each other on our top friend list and of course I have her password so I can always check to see what going on. I feel there is no problem with this just as long as you talk to your child , not only that my daugther have her profile set to private that way no one can view it unless she adds them as a friend , what I have discovered is that a lots of these teen usually add kids from there school as a way of communating with each a hang out place and the great thing is , is that they are home and your phone line is free . Well the great thing about it for me is that I had meet someone that is very special and we have been dating for more then a year with plans to get married ."
"I have a teen girl who is very much a social net worker. She has a my space profile and is very creative in all areas of the internet. I understand the dangers and lost much sleep over how to grow with my child in this new world. I finally felt that it was important to let her involve herself in this social networking life style, but I knew as a parent I needed to step out of the box and grow with her. With respect for her development and for the sake of my sanity I purchased a program that patrols her computer. It automatically gives me information and details on conversations sites and personal information as well as snap shot of her screen in timed inner volts. I can review these things as often as I choose. I can even set alarm alerts for specific items this way I can check on something if it is urgent.Now many say right to privacy and such is being violated. Well I say this... I sat with my daughter and I shared with her my feelings and concerns. I also expressed my no! t wanting to drown her personal growth or life with my personal fears or opinions. We talked about the program and all it's features. I was open and honest to it's abilities. She is aware of my need for this program and that it's for her safetey not for parental control or dominance.She understands what specific information concerns me and I understand her desire for room to express with out being repressed.With the use of this program & my Honesty , upfront concerns,& constant cummunication. keeps her happy and growing and gives me peace of mind.It's even help her a time or to when she has lost a passowrd or a link or piece of information. She has asked for me to look up a file since she knows the program saves everything. In many ways it has open a new door for us . We talk about the things she is doing on the computer open and freely. She even leaves me funny little messages in the program it self since she knows it's saving the information. I know not everyone agrees o! n issues such as these but you do what you feel is important a! nd most helpful for yourself and your child. This has just been the best way for us."
"Myspace is great site if you know how to use it and how to protect yourself. I keep my page private, I don't give personal information and I don't accept people that I don't know. There are some people who use it to hurt kids but that's not what it's for. I mostly use it to keep in touch with friends and family. It isn't fair to those who use it right to loose that privaledge because of others. "
"Very, very informative. Thank you so much."
"I totally agree while I was in College there was no myspace and my class mates and I created a type of email conference system through Yahoo where we share information. If we had my space then college life and studying would have been easier."