Perhaps you parents have heard of MySpace.com
I've been vaguely aware of it for the last six months or so, mainly because our kid has been scanning yearbook photos like a demon and messing up "my" hard drive by saving them to random folders. She uploads the images to her MySpace.com account or helps our neighborhood gang upload them to their own accounts. (We tease her that she'd be rich if she charged each of them 25 cents for the tutoring.) The company itself recently was acquired by Murdock's News Corp and it made the cover of this week's Business Week. It looks pretty popular yet innocuous, in this case an online version of what's been going on in middle schools for decades.
So other kids have been flocking around the computer and our kid seems to enjoy her newfound guru status. She, like me, spends a lot of her time typing away at various sites that let her proffer an opinion. She's using an e-mail address that doesn't have identifying info, I've been assured that MySpace accounts can be made anonymous, she doesn't use her photo or school name or address, and she doesn't seem to be furtive about her actions (the computer is in the familyroom). Of course she wants to do her own thing but I haven't been worried or even very interested.
However other parents are making us wonder if we're too apathetic. In various conversations over the last couple months, someone inevitably starts spluttering about "catching" their teen on (insert mangled MySpace.com name here) and the group's outrage level rises off the charts. The parents don't know anything about the site except that they saw a four-letter word or a sex-related word or (*gasp*) scantily-clad bodies. That usually leads to a rant on "kids today" and "the internet", followed by the impression that these people probably lead a pretty sheltered existence. What's unusual is that this attitude is coming from just about all our parental acquaintances and not just the right-wing homeschooling survivalist fundamentalist Christians. I'm not too worried about our kid enhancing her vocabulary or drooling on the keyboard. However I guess I should be mildly concerned that some parental Luddite will appear on my doorstep inquiring why our kid is putting their kid online when every other neighborhood browser is blocking MySpace.com.
I'm not worried about what the kids can do to the computer itself. I use the the typical firewall/virus/spyware software and I routinely dig through the configuration/startup tables. I do lotsa backups. Verizon randomly changes our DSL IP address. I block most ads with a custom HOSTS file and I don't think our kid even realizes that they're blocked. We talk about online safety and things like Kim Komando's Kid's contract
and she seems to get it, or about as much as a 13-year-old listens to any grownup (let alone parents). We don't read her mail but we do ask her to imagine how she'd feel if Grandma stumbled across her MySpace page.
I know there are a lot of scary stories out there, but has anyone encountered any particular problems with MySpace?
Maybe my daughter is really Unclemick... hey, UM, take out the trash!