The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil,
but because of those who look on and do nothing.

~~~ Albert Einstein



Sunday, January 29, 2006

More On MySpace

Twenty three minutes. Thirty two profiles, complete with photos. Fourteen email address. Twenty two schools. Six places of employment. The name of an after school club, that had a website which listed the calender of events that she most likely will attend. Six 14 year olds. Nine 15 year olds. Twelve 16 year olds. Five seventeen year olds. Three cell phone numbers. Eight AIM Ids. Ten Yahoo Messenger Ids, followed by six complete profiles. Ten full names, first and last, seven have listed phone numbers in my local phone book, complete with addresses. Two posted addresses, so there was no need to look them up.

Yes, I know I did a MySpace post last night. But then I started thinking, just how easy is it? How much more does it take a predator to navigate and find a possible victim? So I used the account I normally have just to look at cases in the news and spent a few minutes "playing the predator". It was simple. Once I found one local teenager- I used their list of friends to find more local kids. So simple. And so dangerous. One just broke up with her boyfriend. A few minutes reading her entries and a predator could find everything he needed to know about her. She was sad, lonely, and complaining her parents are never around. She "just wants to fall in love".

I know, it could never happen to your kid. You trust your kid, you've told them to be careful, and hey they know more about the computer than you do- of course they know to be safe. Right? Did you catch the numbers I posted at the start of this entry? Do you really need more information before you see that danger?

In case you do:

Online dangers pose risks
Homecoming Queen Kehaulani Omakalapua Roberts Missing - Myspace Connection Possible
Forensic tests confirm body as missing girl's Police suspect foul play
24-year-old Albuquerque man has been accused of having sex with a teenage girl he met online. A 49-year-old West Bend man was arrested June 19 on allegations he had sexual contact with a 15-year-old Burlington girl whom he met over the Internet.

I could go on and on. But I shouldn't have to. You should be getting my point right about now. Perhaps glancing at the history files on your family computer, visiting MySpace, signing up for an account and doing a search for your kids school, browsing some profiles for faces you know, and calling your kids in for a important conversation.

Inside Dateline will be airing a special on MySpace, "Potential predators lurk on social networking sites too. Find out more next week on 'To Catch a Predator' III. The full hour airs February 3, Friday, 9 p.m. / 8 C." which will include live blogging on the topic, "Watch the show next Friday and join our live blog! The Inside Dateline blog will have live updates from Chris Hansen during Dateline's airing: Feb. 3, Friday, 9 p.m. ET."

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~Mel said...

Kudos for stressing this again. It's too frightening to think of, but terribly necessary. Thank you!

Anna said...

My younger daughter keeps trying to set up MySpace blogs ("but all my friends have them!"). I have caught her twice. I told her that if I find out she has even visited MySpace she will be banned from the computer until further notice. She seems to think that I won't find out, but I have parental controls that sends me a report!

I've surfed MySpace and it gives me the creeps and that was just from looking at the sites that supposedly belong to girls! I was looking for her friends' sites because if I know their mothers, I'd let them know to check your site or to at least check MySpace to see what their kids are getting into!

Home Sweet Home said...

Hartford Courant
The law enforcement and police are teaming up to warn parents about myspace

http://www.courant.com/news/local/hc-myspace-site-0202,0,5134820.story?coll=hc-headlines-home

Rochelle said...

I'm an Ohio journalist researching a story about myspace.com and how parents can help protect thier kids online. I'm looking to speak with a parent who has had an experience with myspace: just found out their teen had info posted, is working to keep thier kid safe, wants other parents to know what's going on and be aware of these sites. If you can help, please e-mail me at columbusrochelle@yahoo.com for more details.
Thanks!