Not All MySpace Teens Privacy Dimwits

from the where-is-Doctor-Spock dept

Many of the stories discussing social networking sites and sexual predators paint the sites in a negative light, portraying teenagers as doe-eyed automatons without a whit of common sense. A new study shows that teenagers are actually pretty wise about what kind of information they’re sharing online. The study shows that the vast majority of teenagers don’t show their full name, and 40% keep their profiles private unless you’re on their friends list. Of the remaining public profiles, just 1% offered an e-mail address. What’s more, researchers found that kids gain confidence as well as valuable writing, networking and HTML skills while using the sites. As it stands, it’s not clear if the warnings and scary reports are to thank for careful kids, or whether they were being careful all along, and nobody bothered to study them. Many parents have been eager to focus on the negative aspects of social networking sites — even going so far as to blame MySpace for sexual predators. In the end of course it comes down to quality parenting — informed kids not only reduce their risk of problems online regardless of the technology used, they know what to do when problems do occur. While there are kids who still stick forks in electrical sockets, we don’t blame the electrical sockets — we ask why the parents weren’t paying attention to what their kids were doing.

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Comments on “Not All MySpace Teens Privacy Dimwits”

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Thought this was Obvious says:


Teens, nah it’s very simple

Do you have a Myspace account?

– If you answered yes then, you ARE A DIMWIT!!!

I mean really myspace is just this decade’s geocites, quite sad really, given that you can’t really tell they difference, you think a decade would give the masses enough time to grasp basic html design. 😛

Tyshaun says:


Why should people know HTML design ?

So true! I’ve been doing web design as a side gig for the last 5 years and I rarely have to write html code anymore. There are a variety of html editors out there that are very good and make it so that unless you’re doing something very obscure, you can use the GUI interface to “Draw” static pages. A lot of what I do is ASP or Flash based anyway.

At any rate, I would rather see a site like Geocities come back in vogue and give out free space for site hosting. Maybe then the quality of the pages would go up, their would be more room for creativity (myspace templates are horrible!), and maybe the children can learn HTML, CSS, Flash, Javascript, etc for real and get some valuable skills.

On second thought, I guess it’s kind of like learning assembly. Most people nowadays don’t write huge segments of code in assembly, but rather they use it to fine tune and speed up code sections (no flames, I know this is a general statement and if you still like to code your apps in assembly, have fun). Assembly is a good thing to know because it gives you a better understanding of what is going on, and I guess the same could be said for HTML? Maybe?

@rogant b@st@rd says:


Now I’m not trying to sound condescending, considering I’m only 2 years out of high school, but just between my freshman and senior year I have seen a disturbing drop in average intelligence of kids. As a senior I sometimes assited teachers at the Junior High a few blocks away. One occasion on Martin Luther King day, the teachers asked the class who he was. After much deliberation the 7th grade history class came to the unanimous decision that he was solely responsible for freeing the slaves. Not joking.

I’m sure that you are thinking that the previous anecdote is irrelevant, but now that I work tech support for the local ISP…I have to deal with these peole on a daily basis. Through this I have come to a hypothesis that in general the unwashed masses are completely and totally technologicaly incabable of defending themselves online. This entire area would most likely have fallen to identity left had it not been for the various hardware and software firewalls, spam filters, and secure routing schemes.

Sean says:

Re: Right......

While overall I agree that the general quality of school learning is dropping rapidly, that does not indicate a lack of intelligence in children.

If the students don’t know who Martin Luther King Jr was, then they are uninformed, not unintelligent. They have to be taught something before they can know it.

And the fact that you work for Tech Support for a local ISP is not a very supportive bit of evidence, mostly because the people who call Tech Support are, by and large, the idiots who don’t know what they’re doing. The intelligent ones often figure it out for themselves and never have to call you.

Celes says:

Re: Re: Right......

I don’t think that the correct adjective is either uninformed or unintelligent – perhaps uninterested or inattentive would be better.

In my county, most school years begin with a short review of the subject matter discussed from the previous year in related classes. I have seen students in the gifted classes who seemed not to remember a thing from the year before – not because they weren’t taught, obviously not because of a lack of intelligence, but simply because they weren’t really paying attention, or the subject matter didn’t interest them enough to make it stick past that year’s final.

On the other hand, when children receive information that is relevant to their daily lives, like guidelines for online responsibility, there’s a little more adhesive on that Post-It note. Though they may act like they don’t care what their parents are teaching them, self-preservation is one of our basic instincts, and most children will end up being more careful without realizing it. (Of course, there will always be those who are deliberately violating their parents’ rules or wishes, as well as those who think that bad things just can’t happen to them, but luckily these kids seem to be in the minority.)

misanthropic humanist says:

-5 uninformative

This looks like the usual condescending trash you’d expect from USA today.

From TFA

“Experts warn that sites like leave underage users prey to unwanted sexual advances..”

Experts eh? Well that settles it, who could argue with “experts”. Credentials anyone? Names? Sources?

“The authors of the unpublished study did find that 5% posted pictures of themselves in bathing suits or underwear. Also, 15% of the profiles viewed showed friends in bathing suits or underwear.”

Skipping quickly over the issue of the “study” (they looked at MySpace) being “unpublished” (and hence carrying no acedemic weight whatsoever since it obviously hasn’t been reviewed) we find that sexually active teenagers like to show off their bodies. Perhaps if they were not repressed by the double standards of a puritanical home and school life and actually able to go outside their houses to meet other teenagers socially they might not feel the urge to. Or maybe they would anyway, given that they are exposed to a shallow cult of narcissistic celebrity “supermodel” freaks that give them impossible standards of physical stature and are then encouraged to emulate said celebrities while being berrated by their peers for not being what they will never be.

“MySpace has some safeguards in place, such as prohibiting youngsters 13 and under from setting up accounts ”

Good job the honour system works so well on the internet isn’t it.

“However, some underage users create false profiles and misrepresent their ages, Hinduja said.”

I think it’s a blessing that God created intellectuals of such acute wit as Hinduja, we would truly be lost without them. What has todays youth become? I never would have done that.

“The researchers say they were motivated to do the study after negative media scrutiny created a frenzy among parents and teachers to ban youngsters from using MySpace”

Bollocks. They got a research grant to surf MySpace. Layabout hippes.

“The researchers encourage parents to log online with their children and visit their child’s profile with them.”

The only sensible words in the entire article.

“Researchers also underscore several benefits that users gain from having MySpace profiles. MySpace users learn HTML coding,”

About as much use a chocolate teapot by the time they grow up.

“…network with friends and find other MySpace users with similar interests”

Pretending to be another 18 y/o supermodel with l337 HTML coding

“”The benefits far outweigh any potential risks,” Patchin said.”

Yeah, because the “risks” are as close to zero as makes no difference. Anything compared to zero “far outweighs” it. They are more at risk of choking on junk food or electrocuting themselves on the outlet when they plug in their games console (both those things happened to kids in the last 24 hours).

The usual do-good know-nothing pundits pontificating about issues with which they are completely out of touch.

Classy research.

Who paid for this again?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: -5 uninformative

“Perhaps if they were not repressed by the double standards of a puritanical home and school life and actually able to go outside their houses to meet other teenagers socially they might not feel the urge to.”

I worked tech support in a public schools system for 6 years and you couldn’t be farther from the truth there. Most schools dress codes are a joke compared to when I was in school. All a predator has to do is set outside a school and watch, you would be amazed. Every conference we went to the topic was how the kids were dressed.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: Re: -5 uninformative

#AC7 are you saying that teenagers dress more sexually agressively
these days? Then I would agree.

There is a topic that is very seldom dealt with, imho it is considered a taboo and dangerous subject, but basically there is strong scientific evidence that the age of puberty is falling sharply. Some beleive this is due to environmental estrogen contamination from birth control drugs. I remain sceptical myself, but here’s a couple of pointers fwiw.

By repression, I do not mean direct behavioural repression. I mean subtle psychological repression. When I was at school we wore uniform, revealing casual clothing was banned for the lads and girls were not allowed makeup or jewelery. That didn’t stop subtle forms of expression though. We had very good sex education as early as 10 and teachers who talked openly about the highs and lows of sexual relationships.

I think parents and teachers are less able to talk about the normal facts of life than they were 30 years ago. Today I hear a lot of pseudo religious faux morality which kids see right through as doublespeak. The role models they emulate are shallow TV personalities because real people in their lives are too timid to conduct intelligent discussion that is not deemed politically correct.

Are they naive about sexual predators and inappropriate relationships with adults? No way. I hear girls and boys as young as about 7 talking at the bus stop about which of their teachers are nonces. Of course what they say is funny, way off, when you are that age all teachers that don’t look like Brad or Angelina are either “lezzers”, “gay” or “fiddlers”. They’re very cautious and very aware I think.

ryan says:

its not that bad

Myspace isnt as bad as you guys paint it to be. Im an active myspacer and my grammar and all that are just fine. I know when to type formally and informally, like now. It is a way of communicating, showing pictures, etc. Its also improved my typing speed.

The language isn’t English. Its leik en, zomg!1!!

People dont actually talk like this, I have never seen someone actually type like that seriously. The times I do see it its just a joke, making fun of some nerd or something.
Myspacers=/=Computer nerds

Kyros (profile) says:


If your grammer skills are as good as you claim, they why is every sentence you use a simple sentence? The cat is nice. I like cats. I petted the cat.

Myspace I’m sure does get a FEW people interested in HTML and CSS, as well as improve typing speeds and some grammer though. It doesn’t seem to have any major negative effects except wasting alot of room in magazines and doing what evolution would do normally.

Devonshire (profile) says:

Re: re:


Why WAS every sentence you USED a simple sentence?

I assume you weren’t writing that reply as he was typing and therefore your comment should have been in past tense. Wait, is this grammar correction coming from someone with a MySpace Page??? jk, lolz*

*note intentional satanic MySpace grammar 😉 (OH NO, EMOTICONS!!!!).

-Earlobe-Fetish- says:

Re: re:

“If your grammer skills are as good as you claim”

Oh, the irony.

However, though I’m not a huge fan of Myspace, it is not quite as bad as some make it out to be. I have a Myspace account, and I use it every few days. It’s not some ‘Satan Reincarnated’-esque thing, as many seem to imply; nor is it The God of All Internet. It’s a site, just like any other. Its sole purpose is socializing, and I don’t understand how that could bother so many people. It has its pros, it has its cons, but in the end, so does every other modern invention.

Myspace’s popularity will fade soon enough. It’s really not *that* big of a deal.

T.K. says:

Writing Skills?

I strongly disagree with the statement regarding “improved” writing skills. If by writing skills you mean the complete decline in grammar and spelling skills, then yes, they certainly have improved.

As for HTML skills? It’s not as much HTML as it is more CSS involved in making the layouts, and it’s not really that much. If you know what you have to change, you just put in a different hex code for your color and you’re done. The HTML coding occurs in most of the posting done, and even, it’s not like kids are actually typing bold words. More like, typing it and then going into the editor and making them bold.

misanthropic humanist says:

Re: Writing Skills?

Absolutely. I’ve grown much more forgiving of poor grammar and spelling when the underlying concepts are clearly communicated. We write much more than we ever have before, often in a rush. What distinguishes skilled writers in my opinion is comprehension and the ability to formulate critical analysis and argument. I do get wound up by lazy Americanisms though, for example “I could care less”, and the exchange of “then” with “than”. But what would you expect from a pompus Englishman?

Janelle says:

I think the risks of using MySpace are pretty low; it depends on the individuals, both the best and the worst (which unfortunately, society mostly focuses on). Anyone with enough common sense to know not to meet strangers or post pictures of themselves half naked to attract those strangers should do just fine on the site. Then again, some teenagers (myself being one, so I may credibly observe my peers) lack the self respect they should have, and make us all look like unintelligible and lacking in integrity.

I think the whole issue is that so many of us hear about only the bad things happening involving MySpace on the news so we are driven and biased to believe that the website is a bad thing. Also, come on now! GRAMMAR and SPELLING wars are just sinking to the lowest of the low. Why can’t people think simply? As long as you know that you’re intelligent enough to write formally when it is necessary, and informally if you so feel, why does it matter what everyone else is doing? Are your friends that unintelligent? People need to try minding their own business and stop judging others. So what if dey typ lyk diz nd dont seem 2 hav any sense of intelligence. That’s their problem, isn’t it? Can you really do anything about it besides uselessly dwell over it?

Society, and the general tendency of others to involve themselves in the business of people whom they know nothing about, irritates me. I say, if someone’s going to be stupid, let them be stupid. The kids that are dumb enough to go meet strangers and the parents that are so unattentive to what their children are doing seem to me that they deserve what they get. And as for the general intelligence of today’s teenagers being lower, that may be true, but I think it depends on the location as well. However being 16 years old I feel that when people are only directed to see the bad qualities of our age group, it makes all of us teenagers, including the ones with good sense, look like naive, ignorant prey for sexual predators; when there are many MySpace users of my age that are overlooked that do have the intelligence to maintain a healthy lifestyle both academically and on MySpace, if that makes any sense. Most adults don’t use MySpace as vigorously as many teens do, so I don’t see why they should judge us with their points of view when we see things from ours, and on an intelligent level, see it as something harmless and not as bad as those that get into trouble and end up the news make it seem to be.

Chris says:

A waste of Time

Being a teenager myself, I do use myspace, however I see it as a waste of time. I use myspace as a way of talking to friends from my old school and putting up funny pictures (really they are more random than funny). I do not spend a lot of time on myspace, in fact I only spend about 30 minutes on myspace a month (shocking, I know). People seem to blame everything on myspace (I have had teachers blame low grades on myspace, when in reality kids went on myspace so they could have a break because of all the homework we had[and have] to do). I see their point but I blame them, when you overwhelm a kid (a person who, because of their age, has so much energy and needs to do something to expend some of it) we become fidgety (that is the best way I can describe it). I know that after school I need to go home and run a mile just so I can sit down and do my homework, otherwise I will be off the wall and unable to concentrate.
Anyhow, I am glad to see that people have finally seen that myspace is not as bad a they made (or is it still make?) it out to be. I just wish that people would stop looking at one side of the issue at hand.

Ryan says:

come on

If your grammer skills are as good as you claim, they why is every sentence you use a simple sentence? The cat is nice. I like cats. I petted the cat

Come on, does every sentence have to be complex? Does it even matter? I got my statement accross, you understood it, thats all that really matters. You dont have to be all proper and perfect anywhere especially writing/grammar. As long as the person understands, its all good.

Dave says:

Wow they're BRILLIANT....

SOME kids lie about their age? SOME? How about 90% of my 120 friends. And no, I’m not “proud” of having 120 friends. I don’t stoop that low.

Also, who the hell gives a damn if you post a picture of you in a swimsuit? “HO NO! YOU CAN SEE HER STOMACH!” Yeah, it’s nothing you can’t go to the beach and see any day. Underwear, granted, is a little different, but still. Swimsuits are worn in public. So why would it be odd or “bad” if you had pictures of them?

Mary says:

My thoughts

I have four boys–two of whom are teenagers. My second born has little or no interest in chatting online. My oldest is his mother’s child–very social, loves computers. His interest ranges from building them to writing html, to writing in general.

Mixing kids and computers is a matter of street sense. In fact many of the same rules apply.

1) Know who your kids are talking to. Ask questions, look over their shoulders from time to time, let the people they are chatting with know that you are on the scene. This is akin to inviting your kids’ friends over to your house.

2) TALK TO YOUR KIDS. Be direct about what happens to people (and I don’t just mean kids–adults are just as prone to be trusting) who give out too much information over the internet. My oldest son is a typical teen; he’s bulletproof. Because of my own personal interests, I’ve visited parenting watchdog sites and have run across snippets of conversations between sex-offenders and teens. Typically, the conversation starts out innocently enough and it’s virtually impossible to tell the difference between the sex offender and the average teen until it’s almost too late. I copied, pasted and printed it and gave it to my son. He was silent for a long time. Later on, he was hanging over his younger brothers’ shoulders as they played on the computer investigating who was in their e-mail inboxes. It gave me chills.

3) Set extremely clear boundaries and stick to the consequences of violating them. We’re tough about this and I believe it pays.

4) Become computer smart–if you don’t know about computers, learn about them. If you aren’t a frequent user of internet software, at least familiarize yourself with it. This will make the internet less of a “great unknown” and also make it less likely that teens will dance around you.

5) Literacy is important in our house as is are good writing skills. My mother used to say that everyone in the world has at least useful purpose: they can either be a good example or a bad one. She did not hesitate to use people as a bad example. I am more cautious, but I do it too. When I get an e-mail using internet short hand, I point it out and chuckle over it.

6) If nothing else I said here means anything to you–file this away: We really are the most powerful forces in our children’s lives, but we have to claim the power and use it or we lose it.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

IF anyone thried to find out my real identity, with the exception of a few friends and one of the Admins at my old school, they would have a hard time. Firstly, I don’t give out a lot of info, secondly, scondly, some of the stories about things I have done were done by friends, or I took credit for friends doings (with thier permission, to confuse the issue). I also have many names, and I am helped by the fact that there is at least one other |333173|3|_||3 on my old school campus, which came in dead handy (I was first, and distributed a modifeid version of SoF II MP test, which had my name in the XI clan colours, even though I am not a member)

|333173|3|_||3 says:

oh yea...

The prportion of children who get preyed upon is low, and are likely to be those who were vulnerable anyway. HAs anyone kept tabs on the proportion of childern who are abused, and looked to see if that has chaned, and the prportion of the adult populatin who have molested children. While any child abuse is bad, it may be that the techniques of approaching the children has changed.

HTML/JS are usefull for quickies, like a simple page I made up in about ten minutes to extract all the ‘phoos from my grad in an single page, rather than use the “official” UI. THe page took longer to load than to write.

I agree with the comments on writing skills, but the only times I or my friends used 133+ was to annoy admins by making the filters they tried to put on email not work (they then tried to block all emails which had misspelt words in, and you can imagine how well that went down), for parody, and, with a private shorthand/code to have private discussions in FPS death matches, or, as in the case of my name, beacuase of a long and boring chain of events which it is not worth mentioning here. I should think that Autocorrect is morre to balme than MySpace for bad english, That being one ofthe two reasons I ever use M$ word nowadays (as opposed to LaTeX), the other being that those who don’t know how to use PDF comments can use word comments on my drafts.

reality says:

Some Parents are Fucking Stupid

Anyone who bitches about myspace is ignorant or lacks ABILITY and RESPONSIBILITY as a parent. Myspace doesnt tech kids grammar idiots. School does that. The school that your kids are supposed to attend. Parents need to get their heads out of their asses and watch their kids. Just because you pay the bills doesnt mean shit. Paying is not PARENTING. Spent time with your kids and guide them… if you do that they wont screw up and you wont need to look for a scapegoat… like myspace or videogames.

StubbornlyProgressive says:

My opinions

alrite, first of all its a choice for kids to join myspace am i right? of course.
If they want to be ignorant about everything and talk to people they dont know, it is their choice.
They are provideing their own future.
Parents yes, should inform the kids about all the risks, show them news articles, watch the news about all the kids who have been raped/molested due to myspace. ( once again, the kids who were being stupid and meeting people they met online)
but really if you think about it, if a parent tells the kid not to join myspace, Odds are they will make one anyway.
What the myspacers really need is common sense.

. says:


I don’t think the grammar issue is that important. I mean, slaves and poor whites couldn’t write 200 years ago. That was a large amount of people who were illiterate. The difference now is that illiterate people have the opportunity to write. So what if you superior people sense that their writing is worthless?

It’s sad to see you people of outstanding intellect and immaculate grammar waste your time attacking those who were not born so fortunate.

Didn’t Anthony Burgess write a little something about teenagers speaking a whole different language than adults in 1962? That was 20 years before the internet was born, and 40 years before anyone had heard of MySpace.

But I did like that bit about plastics.
“I want to say one word to you, Benjamin, just one word: plastics.”

O RLY? says:

Lawl, HTML Skills..

Myspace doesnt teach kids any valuable HTML skills at all.
Children would probably learn more from thier basic ICT lessons at school on Word. Most of the users on myspace copy the code from a website, supplying premade layouts. They may edit thier ‘About Me’ Section from time to time, providing them with no more knowledge than the bold tag, Strikethrough Tag, and Breakline tag. So ‘learning valuable HTML skills’ is way too over-rated. The most these skills can do for them, is probably limited to myspace. So I probably wouldnt go looking for a job as a web-designer if you’re only familiar with a few HTML codes.

One of Many says:

It is a matter of opinion

I do think it is truly amazing how upset people are getting over myspace lately. I do not see anyone becoming so upset over friendster, Xanga, or live journal. It seems that of the people who are so againts myspace, most of you seem concerned with it only because of the large ammount of people that have acess to it, am I right? I have read all of the posts above and I would like to adress several things.
The first thing I would like to discuss is the controversey of whether or not Myspace teaches children good writing skills. While I do agree that most users do not use good writing skills while on the site it is not the job of Myspace to teach your children well developed grammar skills. This is, essentially, one of the many things they should be learning in school. However, I know that I myself am very into creative writing and I do like to explore different techniques. Myspace does give me this oppertunity and I do enjoy writing my about me and re-writing every once in a while. Many people do spend a good ammount of time editing their about me and it truly can help to improve, not teach, good writing.
Also, it seems that many people think that Myspace does not teach children HTML or CSS and this may be true for many of them, however, what about those of us who make our own layouts? There are many people who do this, and no I am not discussing of plugging the information into a profile creator, I am talking about making a DIV Overlay layout or something to that extwent. Myspace gives people the oppertunity to explore, and use their imagination.
I do believe it is not Myspace’s responsibilty, but rather both the parent and the child’s to see that children are safe when they are online. Parent should talk to their kids about what they should and should not be doing. I am by law, a child, and that is about as much as I can say without disclosing my age. I am a younger teen as well. Although we may act like we do not listen when parents talk to us we do hear you, understand that you care, and many times even listen to the things you say.
Finally, I do not see why so many people make such a big fuss about Myspace. Do you mind that your children have IM? Is it not just another form of communitcation like Myspace? One with an age limit of 13, the ability to make your sn private and let only people on your buddy list im you, and an oppertunity to converse with sexual predators if you do not have enough common sense to be careful whom you talk to and what information you disclose? You can creat an AIM profile, such as with, and you can easily post pictures on their… so please tell me why IM is not getting attacked as well. If anything myspace is better because if you need to, not suggsting you do because it is an invasion of privacy, parents can easily hack their children’s myspace and view their messages, thus finding out who their children are talking to. Gone about the right way Myspace can be a wonderful thing.

If you read all of that, thank you, it is nice to know that some people are interested in others opinions. However, by posting this I am not asking for shitty remarks back or anything like that, I simply thought I would share my oppinion with the people who would like to hear it. That is what a forum is for. Please remember that there is a big difference between constructive critisism/stating your oppinon and being a wise ass who thinks he/she knows it all.

I would know, I used to be that person.

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