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MySpace Fears, Just Another Backlash? 308

An anonymous reader writes "Wired takes a hard look at all the hype about MySpace being a danger to teens, and concludes it's just another backlash against technology and youth culture. The most damning evidence against MySpace are the recent cases of men arrested for dating underage girls they met through the site, but statistically these cases are a drop in the bucket. From the article: 'In fact, with a reported population of 57 million users, MySpace is arguably safer from such crime than other communities that haven't been the subject of the same scrutiny. One example: California, which averaged 62 statutory rape convictions per month in the late 90s, in a state population of 33 million.'"
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MySpace Fears, Just Another Backlash?

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  • by dtsazza ( 956120 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:38AM (#14815950)
    I've said it before and I'll say it again, technology is very rarely the problem. MySpace is by its very nature a social networking tool (of dubious quality, but that's another issue), and is meant to bring people together. What they do after that is a function of the people, not MySpace itself. And yes, sometimes these people meet through MySpace and then have underage sex.

    Sometimes people meet each other through school and then have underage sex... I don't hear any claims that school is a "danger to teens". It's time we stopped blaming technology for merely giving people opportunities to show their moral fibre.
  • Maybe bad math? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:39AM (#14815953)
    Actually there was a digg story saying that most of the 57 million are adbots, fake profiles and inactive users. So maybe the ratio is worse than it looks....
  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:39AM (#14815954)
    This is merely the news outlets generating income for themselves. They have to keep the scare machine up and running, lest we forget how irrelevant they are.

    I think they have a quota. At least one station in every market MUST show the viewers/readers a way that the new society is 'bad' at least once a day.
    Once a week, they all have to get together and show us the SAME story on some way that we can be kidnapped or killed.

    "Dangers lurking in your sink! Details at 11!"

    Now...back to the story at hand. Are some kids being fools on MySpace? Sure there are. These same kids would be fools anywhere. MySpace is just one outlet for them.

  • by jdwclemson ( 953895 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:49AM (#14816013)
    Every time there is new technology, it makes crime easier, and some news guru will always spin an article out of that. Do you know how criminals usually find out that it makes crime easier? They realize the technology makes LIFE easier and just start to apply it to their crimes. Look at cell phones, internet, with emails. These are all used all the time by criminals and new laws have been made because of these technologies, but its not likw the technology is the problem. Just about every step forward for technological progress turns into a step forward for criminals, but the pros just about always will out weight the cons. Just remember that you read the articles with these headlines, so reports will always be there to produce them, stating the hazards of fusion, quantum computers, and Playstation 4.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @09:50AM (#14816017)

    Back in 1996 when my family got Internet access, dialup access was almost the norm among the middle class families where we lived in coastal North Carolina. We weren't uber-elite, we weren't ahead of the curve by any wide margin. We were like most of our middle class neighbors. My parents at least tried to monitor what I did, and they instilled a healthy fear of revealing my information online because I wasn't an adult and couldn't defend myself against sex offenders.

    Fast forward to today. It's quite common for young teens and late preteens to play "taunt the pedophile" with naughty, often slutty, pictures. Parents don't even try to monitor their kids' access by randomly checking on them, reading through their history (rarely worked, but at least our parents tried back then a lot harder than most today). Many, many parents today just don't want to be bothered. It's not their fault that junior is living a completely parent-free life the moment he goes online. Oh no. Parents can't be expected to be the boss in their own homes!

    I've said it once [], I'll say it again. Too many parents today regard the Internet as Happy Playland(tm) and don't even bother trying to protect their kids today. Then again, maybe this is necessary because too many of my peers in college had a dreadfully naive view of basic security. It's about being a responsible parent. When you had that child, you took on the responsibility of being a parent. That means you sacrifice personal time and career where necessary to raise them. I'm sick of people who insist that they can have it all, while they do half-assed jobs as parents in the name of finding "personal fullfillment" through everything but being a good parent raising a new generation worthy of those who made this country great.

  • by clear_thought_05 ( 915350 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:15AM (#14816158)
    Definitely bad math. Whoever made the comparison is just plain foolish.

    How can anyone compare 33 million physically existing people with 57 million registered accounts in a digital database? Furthermore how do you compare an online "community" with a the state of california?
  • Re:Uh.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by epiphani ( 254981 ) <epiphani@ d a l . net> on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:17AM (#14816175)
    I would moderate you flamebait if I could, instead I'll just (impersonally) flame you.

    I believe that the comparison to California's crime rate is invalid because cybercrime may or may not involve actual physical contact. And, if it doesn't involve physical contact (for example, a dirty phone conversation), then it may not be reported.

    So what, now -talking- about having underage sex is illigal, should be reported as sexual harrassment or such? wtf? Keep the frame of reference here. The issue was the fact that people were meeting on myspace and proceeding to have real, in person, SEX!. My issues with the legal age aside, you can NOT compare phonesex with a minor to statitory rape.

    IMHO, that job should include removing computers from their children's bedroom.

    At what age does it become acceptable? 18? 16? 14? If you've got a 15 year old girl that wants to flirt on the net, removing her computer from her room isnt going to stop her. If you want to be sure that she doesnt go meet some 40 year old in a motel for a night of wild sex, then raise her with values that wouldnt let her do that.

    Teens running off and having sex with older folks isnt a symptom of the internet, its a symptom of something totally different. Yes, teach them not to put themselves in bad situations, but that doesnt mean removing their privacy to achieve it.

    When my dad started dating my mom, he was 22 and she was 16. 30 years ago, that was still a big age difference, but when they past their 30th anniversary this year, it made me wonder what kinda fuss they went through and weather it would be more or less flac if I dated someone 6 years my junior now.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) * on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:21AM (#14816199) Homepage Journal
    It's quite common for young teens and late preteens to play "taunt the pedophile" with naughty, often slutty, pictures.

    Indeed. I'm often amazed that so many people seem to refuse to accept the existance of exhibitionists.

    Sluts and teases often are exhibitionists. They enjoy having people drool at them. Some use "mooning" as a socially aceptable outlet for their desire to show their ass to people, and now there's the joy of webcams, where they can, from the security of their own room, show their nubile bodies to countless strangers.

    Off course, there are laws against exhibitionism (especially for those under an arbitrary age), as there are laws against oral sex (in some places), but when has it ever been enough to tell teenagers not to do something they want to do? That usually makes them want to do it more just for the joy of rebelling.
  • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:24AM (#14816226)
    Doesn't seem to be far fetched here. Usually, like all of you, think it's being hyped to generate news. But in this case it is very, very real. Just ask her family.

    And this doesn't happen if people were to meet in a bar? MySpace is not the cause, merely (another) conduit.

    The guy is the problem, not MySpace.

  • You don't need to censor kids who have proper (or at least mildly appropriate) values.

    I was born into a house without a computer, first "peecee" was an XT when I was 8 or so. Didn't get on the net until years later in 1996, etc...

    My parents didn't watch over shit I did on the net because by time I got access to the net (at age 14) I was already capable of figuring out that the "neo-nazi's of Oregan" aren't really a nice bunch to hang out with, etc, etc, etc.

    So maybe the trick is that you shouldn't let your 6 yr old children run rampant on the net. Maybe let them have a computer but disconnect the network. Wait until they're 12 before you let them on unsurpervised. It's like letting your 8 yr old kid loose in a crowded market place. Just not smart.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:25AM (#14816236)
    I live in Baltimore County. We just had a arrest of a man who went out on a date with a woman from myspace where he killed her on the date.

    I think that the story could have ended there as it's no different than any other date... But nooooo. They had to go on and mention that they met on MySpace. I assume that meeting on MySpace is so much different than meeting in say, a bar, where you would probably be even more vunerable either by way of alcohol or open containers that are easy enough to slip in a drug.

    Anything to make a story "interesting".
  • by Rob T Firefly ( 844560 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @10:30AM (#14816271) Homepage Journal
    Would it make anyone feel any better if they met at a party? Or a bar? Or on a telephone chat line? Or at work? Or at school? Or on a public street?

    At what point exactly can we blame the context more than the criminals?
  • by zorblek ( 938111 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @11:09AM (#14816571)
    I agree. I think the only rape MySpace is responsible for is the continual rape of HTML occurring on the site...
  • by dfghjk ( 711126 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @11:30AM (#14816763)
    Different cultures can justify different ages of consent and have it still make sense. Just because one country sets the age at 14 doesn't mean that another is wrong not to.

    Also, age of consent laws apply to both sexes, not just women, although some countries have different ages for males and females involved in same or opposite sex relationships. How do you think they justify that? The way you put it, age of consent laws are intended to punish women and that's preposterous. Age of consent laws are intended to protect the young, not discriminate against them!

    No matter what age you choose it will never be right for everyone.
  • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @02:11PM (#14818548) Journal
    While it isn't perfect since connotations of words vary from person to person . . .

    You mean like Alanis Morrisette's misuse of the word "ironic"? Connotations "vary" among people who are using words that they do not understand. A simple check of a dictionary can provide the definitions necessary to make one properly understood.

    Grammar and proper spelling only facilitate the persuasiveness of an argument since it sounds more pleasing.

    Proper grammar and spelling facilitate the persuasiveness of an argument because they make it more comprehend-able. If I cannot understand your argument, you aren't likely to persuade me.

    While yes there are cases where the improper use of they/it/ect does hinder the reader

    What does electro-convulsive therapy (ect) have do do with your argument? Granted, its improper use would hinder anyone, not just the reader. OK, that's a cheap shot. I'm just having fun with you.

    Sadly the easiest way to sum up my argument is... List off how many Authors names you remember. Now, list off who edited their works.

    You sum up your argument with a non-sequitar? What does this have to do with the proper use of grammar? Are you under the misapprehension that an editor's job is to cross a "t" or dot an "i"? That the main function of a book editor is to proof read?

    Look, your argument is barely understandable, and you haven't really proved any points. Proper grammar is conducive to logical thought, but it's not a guarantee of it.

    If you want to use informal shorthand when you're IMing or text messaging someone, fine. Don't make the mistake that such shorthand is acceptable for a more complex "transmission of ideas". For that you need a more formal language.

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