If you’re age 14-24, you’re already on MySpace.com. If you’re over 40, you have no idea what 50 million plus young people are doing on a site with more traffic than even giant Google.
For parents, teaching your children about acceptable online behavior is the new Sex Ed of the 21st century — and to make it worse, we parents have never gone through this experience ourselves!
In later posts, I’ll try to reconcile the fact that social networking sites provide unprecedented positive opportunities to link people together, while at the same time unintentionally facilitating child predators, oversexualization of young people and outright dumb behavior (think MTV’s Jackass by amateurs). What a minefield.
On the positive side are arguments that young people have always created fora to establish their identities and aren’t really doing anything new. See an article by Danah Boyd, an Internet researcher: “Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace”
On the negative side are reports of “cyberstalking” and child predators seeking out and meeting unwitting young people. This is leading to a growing awareness (panic?) in the mainstream media, for example this 11 PM News item on KNBC in Los Angeles February 27: MySpace Investigation
In the meantime, here is a resource available for parents and children: WiredSafety.org