slyvermont: (chocolate)
Yesterday was the MySpace discussion at the HS parents group. We had a large turnout – well, large for us (instead of the five to seven regulars we had about 25 parents). I had an internet connection and browsed around MySpace, demonstrating how to search for kids, and then showing several students’ websites – all from a high school about 80 miles from here. I showed one girl’s site whose pictures included one of her dressed in a bikini, another one of her squeezing her boobs (minus the bikini) and another of her kissing a girl. I showed Myspaces of kids who give detailed information about their lives, making them easy to find. I did show them some of the positive things – a band site, a Harry Potter discussion group – and talked about how it is used to keep up with distant friends.

The principal then talked a bit about what’s been happening at the school (although I think he wasn’t quizzed enough about that). The superintendent and his wife – who happens to be a lawyer in the AGs office specializing in cybercrime – were there, as was another parent who works for the state doing investigations into Internet crime. The local cable station was there, taping me – which means I got to say dirty words on camera (I read from several MySpaces where the kids used four-letter words). That part was very strange – I am going to be on TV saying really yucky things.

Parents asked a lot of questions, but they were quieter than usual for this type of meeting. In retrospect, I wonder if they were somewhat stunned. When you start browsing MySpace, it becomes numbing. It’s an assault on your senses in every way possible.

I’ve decided that I really hate the site. At first I thought it was merely annoying and stupid, with all the loud graphics and ads and music. But after seeing all the incredibly stupid and dangerous things kids are putting up, reading news stories of how pedaphiles are using it as a virtual playground to find victims (one article describes it as a catalog for them), and learning how the site is used for harassment and bullying – I’ve decided it needs to disappear. Now. (And the fact that it is owned by Rupert Murdoch makes me want that to happen even more.)

I tend to be pretty open-minded about these things (I mean, I’m posting this in LJ and I have lots of friends thanks to the Internet), but MySpace is dangerous. People panicked about AOL open chatrooms, but there kids used fake screennames and did not include their photos, hometowns, birth dates, etc. In MySpace, their websites mirror their lives. And while I understand the yearning teens have to be independent and create a space of their own – the Internet may not be the place to do that. At least not on MySpace, which is too easily searched and browsed. It gives me the willies.

Not to mention that dealing with MySpace is taking up too much time in school. I know some people feel that it’s not the school’s responsibility to deal with this. The problem is that MySpace is being used to harass both students and teachers. Someone put up a fake MySpace of a MHS teacher that really really upset him – affected how he interacts with students. That is the school’s business. According to the principal, he’s been dealing with this constantly in the last two weeks – and he met with other principals this weekend, and they all said the same thing.

I have a question. Myspace is for teens, and facebook is for college students and friendster is for 20-somethings. Who is livejournal for? If I search, will I find as many unsavory and disturbing things about livejournal as I did for MySpace? My general sense is that teens can be as stupid on LJ as they are on MySpace, but MySpace makes it easier for them to be stupid – one reason being that while MySpace is a place where people go to meet people, livejournal is more of a blogging site. Am I wrong?

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slyvermont

March 2012

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