MySpace -Threat or Blessing?
Article by Rick Leinecker, November 6, 2006

Almost everybody below the age of 30 uses MySpace (www.MySpace.com) as a form of communication. Many of my students at RCC spend hours editing their MySpace presentation so that it reflects their identity as they want to portray it. MySpace offers most people an unrivaled avenue of self-expression. But there are some issues that need to be addressed to fully expose the potential MySpace minefields.

In general, I give MySpace a thumbs up. It's a great place to create an identity. And identities can be created more closely to what the creator intends. This act of self-expression is very important for people, especially for younger people. MySpace can have pictures, writing, blogs, lists of friends and activities, and just about anything else that the creator deems important.

This freedom is one of the things that made the Internet what it is today. Yet it raises some red flags when it comes to kids. Younger users don't always know how much information is too much. For instance, a 13-year-old can post their address and phone number right beside their picture. Talk about an invitation for a predator! A kid can also keep a blog that gives a lot of private information, and this can be used against them by a child predator.

I advise parents to get their own MySpace account so that they know what's going on. You will understand the MySpace creation and editing process, and you'll be able to see what your children are displaying.

In extreme cases, some kids are posting inappropriate pictures of themselves. Even if they're not pornographic, you probably don't want your children posting provocative pictures of themselves. Even mild mannered kids can fall into the trap of doing this to keep up with their friends.

You can see who their friends are on MySpace. This alone might shock you. Some of their friends might be unsavory, and your child having a MySpace connection with them isn't something you favor.

MySpace can take a lot of time away from things such as homework. Most MySpace users spend hours refining their area. Two of my children have MySpace accounts and they spend hours each week on it. But they don't go overboard and still get everything done. The benefit to them from writing on a regular basis and being creative is fantastic. Most English teachers would have loved to think up an activity in which students absolutely love to write. They also deal with pictures and music; and the integration of writing, music, and art is a fantastic bridge to higher-order learning.

I like MySpace. I think the advantages are great. But I also urge caution for parents. Make sure your kids aren't crossing the line, because if they do it could lead to disastrous results.

That's it for MySpace, which is a blessing in my opinion.