MySpace: The virtual home of child predators?

It is widely believed that the social networking site MySpace caters to thirteen-year-old whores and child predators. As a young teenager, my parents did not allow me to have a MySpace profile, as they too held firm to this belief. While exploring fifteen random MySpace profiles, my goal was to determine whether or not there was much truth behind this lingering conviction. The first profile I visited belonged to a girl, supposedly eighteen years old, who looked no older than a pre-teen. Her profile was public and free for me to view. There were several photographs of her in which her excessive cleavage was the central focus. It was these photos that received more attention than the rest, as each one displayed an outrageous amount of “views.” I explored a similar, also public profile next, one which belonged to a young girl who looked like she was barely out of elementary school. Although she had not posted any racy pictures of herself, a young man (who appeared to be much older than her) had posted a comment to her profile. He was hoping that they could become friends and had “juss thought [he] would show some love.” It was very obvious that the pair were not personally acquainted with each other.

All the profiles I viewed were discovered after I clicked on the “Browse” tab. I found it interesting that the default browse-setting was set to search for females between the ages of 18 and 35.

Although I do believe that pre-teens and young teens are very much in the dark when it comes to the dangers of publishing pictures of themselves and their personal information on the internet, I don’t believe that such behavior is limited to MySpace. Any social networking site may act as an outlet for young people to attract attention from older internet users – with possible wicked intentions. The internet itself, not strictly MySpace, is a marketplace for predators.

It is more important that parents, teachers, role models, older siblings, etc. teach our country’s youth about the dangers of the internet, rather than forbidding the use of a specific social networking site.

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