Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites have really taken off in teen popularity and have dominated the local and national news recently. In 2006, MySpace was the most popular social networking site, but was overtaken by Facebook in 2008.

In the past, any parental concerns related to Internet use centered primarily around what was coming into the home, and how to block access to potentially offensive and inappropriate content for kids. Now, as the communication potential of the Internet surges, the larger danger seems to be too much personal information which may be going out of the home. Perry Aftab, Executive Director of wiredsafety.org has stated in a congressional hearing that the group of kids most at risk seems to be in the age range of 11-1/2 to 15, 30% boys and 70% girls.

The websites posted here share some of the digital-age dangers for teens - relating primarily to Internet use - but also extending more recently to cell phone dangers.

This selection of online resources is offered for further information:

Why parents must mind MySpace: Posting too much information on social networking sites may be dangerous

This NBC Dateline article includes a six-minute video clip, Your kid's cyber secret, with a great introduction to social networking sites and a summary of potential dangers, as well as steps parents can take to regain control. Presented by correspondent, Rob Stafford.

Kids, blogs and too much information: Children reveal more online than parents know

This MSNBC article includes a graph of disclosed personal information: 50% of blog authors are teens and 61% reveal contact information. A related three-minute video clip is included, Too much information. Presented by Technology Correspondent, Bob Sullivan.

A parent learns about My Space: The Popular Web 'Hangout' for Teens Can Be Dangerous for Young People

This ABC News article with three related podcasts shares concerns about teens revealing too much information. Internet security expert, Robin Raskin, known as the "Internet Mom," states that kids are letting too much info "hang out" in cyberspace. Reported by Andrea Smith.

Teens bold blogs alarm area schools: Uninhibited online remarks full of risks officials warn

This Washington Post article reminds us that beyond the obvious danger of online predators, information posted online can be read by college admissions officers and future employers.

Parents discuss fears of teens' Internet use

Good Morning America spoke to three mothers and their daughters, ages 13, 15, and 16. These mothers now monitor their daughters' online activity, after finding inappropriate content on their websites. A six-minute video clip is included, Teens' Online Dangerous World.

NetSmartz Workshop

Real-life stories of interest are included, among them: 1) Julie's Journey, a three-minute video clip detailing the true story of Julie who left home with a convicted murderer she met online, and 2) Amy's Choice, the account of a 15-year-old girl who left home for a face-to-face meeting with a man she first met online.

Testing the bounds of MySpace

An LA Times journalist, Catherine Saillant, shares an account of testing the limits of MySpace with her 13-year-old daughter. Her story shares the results of their experiment, with monitoring, rules, where to draw the line - and at what age.

My Space: your kids' danger?

This article reports actual cases in the news of predators meeting victims online, along with a video clip reporting The Dangers of My Space, with reporter Sandra Hughes. Despite The Center for Missing and Exploited Children reporting more than 1,200 incidents last year of adults using the Internet to entice children, authorities feel many parents aren't aware of their kids' MySpace profiles.

Scenes from the MySpace backlash

This article from Lycos Wired News recounts troubling incidents of adult MySpace users accused of preying on underage girls. Occasionally these teens have misrepresented their ages, as well.

Social networking sites go wireless: MySpace, others now accessible via cell phones, sparking parental concern

This NBC News article, mentions that MySpace is going "mobile," which will allow cell phone access for browsing and also for the posting of images and text. A two-minute video clip is included. Reported by Janet Shamlian.

What should parents know about teen Web sites?

This ABC News article shares information about Xanga, a community of online diaries and journals. Again, the concern is that parents may not know what is being posted on such pages. A short video clip is included. Reported by Erin O'Hearn.

Another Digital Danger - Teen "Sexting" on Cell Phones

A new dangerous trend among teens is "sexting" or sex texting - exchanging lewd messages and images through cell phones. According to an online ABC News report in May 2008, it is a felony for kids under 18 to not ony receive one of those pictures on their phone - but taking a photo and sending it could lead to pornography production and distribution charges.