Adolescents in MySpace: Identity Formation, Friendship and Sexual Predators Larry D. Rosen, Ph.D. California State University, Dominguez Hills June 2006
- The typical MySpacer has about 200 “friends” with approximately 75 being labeled as “close friends”, many of whom they have never met.
- Less than one in three have had an uncomfortable experience on MySpace but ONLY 7% to 9% were approached for a sexual liaison. Nearly all of those simply blocked the requester from contacting them through their MySpace page.
- Younger MySpacers (under 18) are more addicted to the Internet, have slightly lower self-esteem, have more family support, feel more creative, have more online friends and more close online friends, and have FEWER solicitations for sexual liaisons.
Selected Highlights: Parents
- 38% have not seen their teen’s MySpace page and 40% never look at their teen’s MySpace pictures.
- 43% of parents are not sure how many days per week their teenagers they are on MySpace and 36% of parents are not sure how many hours a day they are on MySpace.
- 67% view their teen’s MySpace page less often than every few months.
- 50% allow their teen to have a computer in the bedroom.
- 55% believe MySpace is a fad.
- 33% believe their teen has online friends he/she has never met and 62% have never talked totheir teen about MySpace use.
Selected Highlights: Teens:
- 83% believe MySpace is safe.
- 70% would be comfortable showing their parents their MySpace page.
Selected Highlights: Parents and Teens:
- Parents are far more concerned than teens about all aspects of MySpace including sexual predators (83% of parents were concerned compared to only 35% of teens), social isolation (75%-15%), addiction to MySpace (72% to 21%), lack of physical activity (82%-20%), people posting sexual photos (88%-29%) and people making online friends and meeting in person (81%-36%).
- One-third of the parents are not sure about whether their teen is giving out personal information; even when they think they know, they underestimate how often their teenagers give out their name, school name, phone number, e-mail/IM, and social information. For example, 34% of parents were not sure if their teen had given out the name of their school and 43% were sure that they had done so, while 74% of the teens stated that they had provided their school name.
- Less than half the parents say they have limits on both computer use (46%) and MySpace use (32%) but kids say that those limits are not followed.
- Opinion on Sexual Predators: Parents think there are more predators than teens -- 63% of parents stated there were “quite a few” sexual predators on MySpace while 19% of teens declared that sexual predators were very rare and another 46% said that there were some, but not too many.
- Opinion of Media Coverage of Sexual Predators: Parents think media coverage is accurate (63%) while teens think it is overblown (59%).
The bottom line is that MySpace is not inherently scary or dangerous. In fact, it is helping teens develop an all-important sense of their identity. Parents simply need to pay more attention to what their children are doing, set clear limits, and talk with their teenagers about their experiences. It is not sufficient to simply allow teenagers to live in a virtual world, in their bedrooms, without supervision. It is not the medium that is the problem. Teens need and crave limits and boundaries that parents are not supplying. Once parents start being aware of what their teenagers are doing and talking to them, MySpace will cease to match its negative media hype.
Previous Posts on MySpace and other Digital Native Issues
Part I--Blogging, social networking sites, schools, and risk for teen users
Part II -- Schools Banning Access and Banning Students' Online Presence
Part III--An Overblown Fear: The Internet Predator
Part IV--The Real Risk: Other Students' Cruel, Rude, or Illegal Behavior (or the Poster's Own Cruel, Rude, or Illegal Behavior)
Part V--The Benefits of Blogging, Personal and Educational
Part V--What Should Parents and Schools Do?
Suspended for MySpace Parody
Value of Social Networking Software
Instead of Banning, Teach Appropriate Use
Jeff Fraser: Expelled for Satire
Blocking Academic Blogs
MySpace in Real Life
Debunking Internet Predator Statistics
In Lexington, Kentucky a group of officers started posting on MySpace using their real names. They called each other gay, made fun of cripples, had fun congratulating one officer for arresting a country music star, called the citizens of Lexington snobby, and labeled the local government the "Lexington Fayette Urban Communist Government" .