Monday, October 2, 2023

Say What?

By Rick Racela

Okay, two words. My Space.
 Since it’s been the topic of every news show for the past three weeks, and the concern of every parent, I think you should hear it from my point of view. Every article or conference on the topic has been from an adult’s outlook, but nobody has said how the kids feel about this whole thing.
My Space, for those who don’t know, is an online website that allows its members to connect with “friends” across the country. They are each given a personal website linked from My Space, to insert personal information or their interests.
They can fill out sections titled “About Me” or “Music,” however they please. My Space allows you to “friend” others once you view their pages, allowing you to comment and message back and forth.
Parents and administrators argue the safety issue with allowing teenagers on this site, because there have been problems. Girls who are 12 fill in their ages as 21, and talk to older men they don’t know.
They even arrange meetings and exchange personal information like phone numbers and addresses. Parents fear that this may lead to abductions, rape, even murder. They want the site shut down and people under 18 banned from using it.
I disagree. I don’t think that any problems arising from using My Space, such as girls lying about their age or posting provocative pictures, is the website’s fault.  It is the teenager’s, or for that matter, the parents’ for not educating and monitoring their children’s’ website usage.
There are real dangers in using the internet. There are bad people out there who stalk children and lie about their age in chat rooms and online. And you should never give out  personal information online to someone you don’t know, or make it accessible to anyone.
If teenagers aren’t taught to use the internet safely, and publicize their personal information online, that is no one’s fault but the teen’s.
I personally have a My Space, so I know the rules they have. They ban provocative pictures and have an age limit to become a member. They do everything in their power to provide safety to their members, but when people lie about their age and post pictures of them doing illegal activities, it causes trouble – for everyone.
I have rules of my own that I follow when on My Space, subconsciously. I don’t message with anyone I don’t know, and I don’t give out my address to anyone. My friends on my website are people that I know, and the age in my information is correct.
But I do know friends who have their whole life spread out on their My Space; they have their addresses and cell phone numbers, along with their towns and schools. They even become friends with random people, so their list totals over 500 people, most of whom are from Chicago or California or some other distant place.
I think people are overreacting about My Space; if teenagers are educated in how to use the internet properly, and are monitored by their parents, there’s no reason to blame a website for problems it may cause.
The blame lies with the kids and the parents; it is perfectly legal for this website to operate and perfectly acceptable for a teenager to be a member, as long as you stay safe and follow the rules.
Davis, 16, of Green Creek, is a sophomore at the Technical High School.

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