Almost every teenager has a Myspace account in this day and age. Myspace started out as a social networking site for everyone but it now caters mostly to teenagers. Teenagers and pedophiles that is.
You may think that's an over reaction, as I'm sure your children do, but think about it for a moment. Let's create a place populated by 15 year old girls who run around in their underwear, now let's allow 50 year old men into that same place and give everyone total anonymity...
It doesn't take much imagination to figure out what happens next.
The problem with Myspace and teenagers is the same problem with teenagers and the internet in general. These kids don't understand the danger of putting all of their personal information onto the internet. They're on there to talk to their friends, but their friends aren't the only ones who are watching.
A few years ago, I recieved a Myspace friend's request from my younger sister who was a freshman in high school at the time. I checked her profile and was horrified to see that she had put her entire schedule online. Anyone browsing her profile could see where she went to high school, her class schedule, the places she and her friends would hang out at, pictures of her friend's cars with license plates showing, etc. Everything was right there for any pervert to see. In addition to that, she had pictures of herself wearing just a bra and jeans.
When I called her to ask what she was thinking, I received the typical teenage response. "Everybody does it!" "What's the big deal anyways?"
The big deal is that there really are sickos out there who routinely kidnap, rape and kill teenagers. Not just girls either, it's happened to boys as well. The reality is that giving these sickos all of the information they need to harm you means that you are making yourself a victim, and inviting something horrible to happen to you. That doesn't mean they deserve it, it just means they're making themselves an easier target.
I called my parents after not being able to get through to my sister, and not only was the Myspace account closed, but the computer was removed from her bedroom and placed in the living room. There's really no reason for a teen to have a computer in their room, and if they have a problem using a computer in the living room, then they're doing something on it that they know is wrong, something that they don't want their parents to see.
Recently, Myspace created a new feature where you can display your full name on your profile for the whole world to see. Kids jump at the chance to use these new features, so many of them went ahead and put their first and last names on their profiles. They wouldn't want the perverts to get them confused with some other Kristy and not be able to rape them, right? I'm beyond disgusted that a website which knows it is populated by teenagers, and has had problems with pedophiles in the past would create a feature such as this. It's disgusting.
Years later, my sister is now an adult, and she's still just as naive and ignorant about the world as ever. At this very moment, her full name is on her public profile. The college she goes to is listed, and there are pictures of her apartment complex which clearly show the name of the complex. It would take less than a minute on google to determine her address.
Unfortunately, many people don't realize how harsh and cruel the world can be until something terrible happens to themselves or one of their close friends.
Take a few minutes, right now, and find your kid on Myspace. If you're not internet savvy, then ask someone who is. I've found the children of several of my co workers on Myspace per their request and sometimes what we've found was innocent and put the parent at ease, although there have been a few extremely unpleasant discoveries.
They may be angry with you now about "invading their privacy" but they'll get over it eventually when they are older and wiser. The alternative might just be that they never reach that age.