Last Decemebr, MySpace.com became the #3 most-visited website on the Internet, surpassing Google and behind only MSN and Yahoo! It's a place where teenagers can find people around the world who share their love of sports, their passion for photography or their crush on the latest Hollywood star.
It's estimated there are 18,000 new MySpace webpages created everyday.
But authorities say teens are increasingly finding trouble in an online environment where millions of people can, in seconds, find out where they go to school, learn their interests, download their pictures and instantly send them messages.
Many parents are just now discovering the possible threats to their kid's security as they share too much personal information with complete strangers whom don't have the kid's best interest in mind. They have their own interest...and that could be dangerous.
Just yesterday, I received a call from the dad of one of my daughter's friends. He heard about a case nearby of a child predator recently accused of assulting seven teen girls -- using MySpace as his way to get to the girls.
The FBI says it regularly receives calls from police trying to figure out how to stay ahead of popular technology that puts children a mouse click away from millions of strangers.
MySpace, one of several popular social networking sites, is a free service that allows people to create websites that can be personalized with information, pictures and movies. Searching for someone is as easy as typing the name of a high school and the photographic results are instantaneous.
"They're licking their lips and arching their back for the camera because they can, and they have no idea of the consequences," said Parry Aftab, an attorney and child advocate who runs WiredSatefy.org, a site that helps inform parents and site managers about online predators.
MySpace said in a statement that it includes safety tips and prohibits children under 14 from using the site. Aftab said MySpace, a subsidiary of News Corp., has a great reputation for trying to keep the site safe.
Some teens keep their personal profiles scant, aimed only at their friends. Others describe their likes and dislikes, from the mundane to the profane, and encourage people to send them messages.
"That is a perpetrator's dream come true," said Middletown Police Sgt. Bill McKenna.
Read this informative USA Today article by clicking here
posted by Chris Kennedy @ Sunday, February 05, 2006,