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Tuesday, January 24

MySpace.com = BAD SPACE

Parents: PLEASE Monitor Your Children… I’ve been compelled for some time to discuss what I believe to be dangerous and lascivious content found at MySpace.com. I haven’t maundered about this topic before as I truly do believe whole heartedly in freedom of speech and our first amendment rights. However, the impact and increasing use of this website by our youth is growing more and more bothersome to me as time goes on. I’ve heard several stories of late in national news about alarming criminal activities and even death to people as a result of “nut jobs” searching out posts at My Space. And once again, just a few days ago…even here in Reno…a few young people had to be suspended from O’Brien Middle School because of threatening posts they made at the popular website. That’s right; I said middle school… that’s 12 and 13 year old kids. See news story from KRNV News Channel 4 Reno .

Today, one of our most popular radio personality teams, “Smith & McClain” of KOZZ Radio dedicated their entire afternoon show to this topic. One of the hosts has a 12 year old son, and the mother of one of his friends who monitors her child’s online activity called the host to alert him that something the young man had posted on MySpace might be found inappropriate by the parents. This prompted the popular team to open a discussion encouraging call-ins from the public to give their opinions. It was amazing how many calls they got from our locals. The most intriguing thing to me was the large number of young people that called in and shared anonymously their experiences on the website MySpace. Usually, teens could care less about two old farts discussing anything on the radio, even a popular classic rock channel. But, these teens were open minded and in my opinion unusually unrestricted in their confessions of their time spent on the web. This discussion in turn, urged me to share with you.

After the radio program, I realized that I had not “checked in” on my son at MySpace in a long time. I consider my 17 year old son to be a fairly normal, average teenager. He’s 6’1”, plays football for one of the best teams in high school leagues, and has been chosen as a student ambassador for the
People To People
organization to travel to China this year. However, he’s a typical teenage boy with typical boy interests that go along with that. I am no prude, and accept the fact that he’s almost a man now, and some “boy” things just come with that, along with the effects that come with advancing puberty and “macho-ism”. I can deal with the occasional rough language, and even the casual flirting and boy / girl interaction that goes on at MySpace. I turn my nose up a bit at the “space” my son and his friends have there, but it isn’t too bad. The problem is… it doesn’t stop there.

At MySpace, the kids have their own “page”, pretty much like our blogs. But one can “invite” friends to the group, or have links to other people’s pages. Once the invitation is accepted, posts can be made by invitees. I was frankly appalled at the pages I accessed while at MySpace when I was doing the “Mommy-Spying”! Even MORE astonishing to me was the fact that the very worst and most disgusting pages were posted by YOUNG GIRLS! Right or wrong, I think we all expect some crudeness from the male members of our society, but my gosh…whatever happened to today’s parents raising their girls to be ladies. Parents, those nice camera phones you bought your daughters for Christmas…they are using those to post nude photos of themselves. Some photos, worse than nude. Posts inviting young men to have sex with them are common, vital information is readily accessible. It was nothing for me to find out what high schools the girls attend, what sports they play…even the number on their jerseys. Kid’s not thinking, post photos in front of obvious landmarks or popular neighborhoods and hangouts. It would be so easy for some pervert to post a picture of a teenage boy, get invited to join a MySpace group, and drive straight to the location of an unsuspecting young girl whose information he got from her pages.

While thousands of people use MySpace.com in a perfectly legitimate fashion, and I don’t believe the creators of this site ever thought it would take this direction… it is VITAL that our parents and teachers keep a eye on what goes on there involving their own sons, daughters, and students. Please talk to your kids. DEMAND that you have their passwords. Our children are all reticent in their extra-curricular activities. If we do not keep an eye on them, the results could be terrifying in the end.