Documenting the Coming Singularity

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The MySpace Quandary

By 1:39 PM
Is MySpace the ultimate pedophile heaven that some claim it to be? Or is it a safe place for kids to interact with each other as long as they refuse to allow any communication with people they don't already know? There are whole books written about the evils of MySpace, and both MySpace and its parent company, News Corp are being sued by "parents of girls who were allegedly solicited and sexually assaulted by adult users of MySpace" (c|net News.com).

You should know that I favor the most severe punishments possible for adults who prey on kids. At the same time, however, I think kids out to be smart about this danger. As a father of two teen girls, I frequently try to impress on them the utter foolishness of actions that would put them at increased risk of being abused or assaulted in this way. I want to believe that they've gotten the message and are too smart to be lured into a dangerous situation, whether through MySpace or any other venue.

It seems to me that girls (or boys, for that matter) who interface with strangers on the Internet are lacking something. It may be general intelligence. It may be information about the ease with which evil people can hide behind false identities on the Internet. It may be basic self-esteem. It may be genuine friendships. It may be a combination of two or more of these absences, but something's missing. Am I wrong? Is every young person a potential victim no matter what? Of course I'd like to believe otherwise.

I will always remember my family's first awakening to the presence of circling sharks on the Internet. My oldest son, about 12 or 13 at the time, and I were trying out a new feature on the Internet that allowed him to play chess with other people online and chat with them at the same time. I was sitting behind him, looking over his shoulder, as a stranger began to ask him personal questions. I prompted him to give false or silly answers, until the other person began to get angry and spew expletives our way. That was the end of that.

My youngest daughter thinks I'm being overly paranoid because I won't allow her to go to a nearby park without an adult. Am I? I don't know, but I do know that we all have to do what we can to minimize the risks to life and limb that exist in our modern world.

Please share your thoughts and experiences on this important subject.

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3 comments :

Billy said...

online you can be anyone u wanna be.so why should i get lured by a virtual face. gotta be more intelligent

Maritza said...

I think you hit the nail on the head when you said that these kids are lacking something when they interact with strangers. It's not intelligence, it's attention and interaction from the real people in their lives.

As for the myspace quandry, I joined for awhile to keep tabs on my daughter and make sure that no one that was a stranger was interacting with her. It was made clear on her profile that Mom was patroling.

Since she had a full life with school, work and real friends, she never fell prey to on line predators. The parents are responsible for their children's safety and that may mean invading their privacy for their own good.

Barry Mahfood said...

Sounds like you take my position...it's safe if used responsibly. Let's hope we're right.