Is Kids' Openness About Risky Activities Good Or Bad?

from the just-wondering... dept

There's a moral panic style study being released that claims that many teens "display risky behavior" on MySpace. Of course, when you look at the details, it's not quite so fear-inducing at all. Basically, some kids talk about drinking, drugs and sex online. That's nothing new. But the way this study is being presented, it makes it sound as if the risky behavior is the fact that kids are talking about this stuff. The article doesn't talk about the actual drugs and sex so much as the talking about it, as if that's the problem:
Many young people who use social networking sites such as News Corp's MySpace do not realize how public they are and may be opening themselves to risks
That seems backwards to me. It would seem a lot better to find out that kids are actually talking about this stuff openly, where they can (hopefully) get good advice to keep themselves safe, rather than keeping quiet and experimenting totally in secret. Yes, there definitely are some risks involved in talking about this stuff publicly. For years, we've wondered what will happen when the MySpace generation runs for office, and we've also seen how social networking profiles can be used against an individual in pursuing a career. Of course, there are some who wonder if this widespread openness will lead to a more accepting population. For example the fact that Barack Obama used cocaine at one point in his life was barely mentioned at all during the campaign -- in part because he had openly admitted to it years earlier. It's only the surprise "gotcha" type info that seems to cause real problems.

That isn't to say that kids today shouldn't be at least aware of the potential consequences of over-sharing information, but I worry that a study like the one being discussed here leads to eventual misplaced blame and worries over a problem that might not be nearly as significant as some make it out to be.

Filed Under: children, moral panic, openness, studies

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Jan 2009 @ 6:36pm

    The dangers are rather real. I understand where Mike was saying that there seems to be a "Speak no evil, hear no evil, do no evil" tone to the article.

    However from time to time my friends will play a game to see how well we can internet stalk the other person and see how much info we can gleam with random bits of information a stranger would happen across. A screen name, an email address, full actual name. Maybe combinations of that and see where the path will lead. I deleted all my social networking information I could find, those will lead stalkers to a treasure trove of information about you. Your friends will talk about you and they are linked in your profile typically... it's insane. Also do you REALLY want your current girlfriend to get curious about your past? Or even see what some of your not so nice friends had to say about her haircut a few months back? Sure maybe you wouldn't want a chick like this that will dig around... but you get the idea.

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