The Editorials of E. Desiderius

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Monday, April 10, 2006

Enough About MySpace Predators

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The respectable print media is slightly behind; however all across television screens in America, Friendster, Facebook and especially MySpace have become synonymous with predators and young children exposing their personal information online. The stories are all the same: shocked parents discovering that their ten to eighteen year-olds have signed up for these social networking accounts, and have revealed dangerous pieces of information, “even,” to quote tonight’s Dateline episode, “their favorite hobby….”

Keeping young children safe online is an admirable goal, of course. However, the hysteria about MySpace is absurd, alarmist yellow journalism that fills technologically inept parents with exaggerated claims of dangers posed by the Internet. UC Berkeley Dana Boyd has studied such networking sites for the last two years and has concluded that, “There have been more articles on MySpace predators than there's been reported predators online. It's a hyped up fear, and it scares the shit out of parents." [1].

This author is no fan of MySpace, believing it to be the second-rate grandfather of a vastly better social networking site (Facebook) and colossal waste of Internet bandwidth. It is a moral cesspool, filled with uninteresting adolescent clones, bland copycat bands and is associated with the sin that is Fox News, seeing as Rupert Murdoch owns it through News Corporation.

However, most young people are safety-savvy on the Internet, more than their panicky, clueless elders give them credit for. Few rush off to meet strangers they met on the Internet, and few predators can dig up any more information on MySpace than they could get from the local phone book, or town newspaper with the high school Dean’s List on page 10. The information that is available on MySpace is useless drivel, such as favorite bands, movies, books and heroes, and the occasional quiz asking hard hitting questions like “What is your favorite ice cream flavor?” and “What’s the best place to be kissed?”

There will always, unfortunately, be sexual predators and parents cannot protect their children at all times. There were sexual predators long before the Internet, the automobile, and the cotton gin, and there will be sexual predators to eternity. MySpace is not to blame, nor does it facilitate prey upon children anymore than the automobile does by allowing people to travel distances quickly. Given the huge number of users of MySpace (it is the 5th most popular English Language website in the world), the small number of abuses is being exaggerated in the same way that the danger of chat rooms was embellished at the dawn of Instant Messenger. Parents, trust your children not to run off with strangers they’ve met online. If you can’t trust them with that, cancel DSL and the telephone line, and invest in a few good locks, and a good behavioral therapist. Otherwise, shut up about MySpace and leave your kids be.

-E. Desiderius

Relevant Articles:
[1] Znet Education – Just How Dangerous Is MySpace.

Posted by George Gordon | Monday, April 10, 2006 | E-mail this post

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