It seems like not a week goes by when we see yet another story about just what an evil place MySpace is for teens. What's funny is you could replace every instance of "MySpace" in the article with "chatrooms," switch the date to a few years back and you could probably find a nearly identical article somewhere -- probably quoting the same "experts." Or just replace "MySpace" with "the internet" from about a decade ago -- and you'll get the same thing. Remember it was about a decade ago when Time Magazine put out its infamous article on that dangerous internet, chock full of dangerous cyberporn -- that was quickly, and thoroughly debunked. The press loves these "something online is dangerous" stories, because they have a good hook. However, lots of things, both online and offline, have dangerous components to them. Rather than just building up the fear aspect that creates a misdirected lynch mob towards completely shutting down whatever is the dangerous thing this year, shouldn't we be more focused on teaching people who to have a bit of street smarts -- both online and off? When I was a kid my parents taught me to be careful around strangers. Are parents today not teaching their kids how to be careful and to avoid those who may be dangerous? Are they simply waiting for the press to build up enough fear that the government has to come in and do the parenting for them? Sure, MySpace is dangerous online... for kids who don't know enough to be careful around strangers. So, which is a better solution? Stopping MySpace? Or teaching kids to be more careful? Because, if you stop MySpace, you can bet the same kids will just move on to the next "dangerous" thing. Of course, that will give the press their next hot story.
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