MySpace is Safe After All
A National School Boards Association (NSBA) study, which was funded in party by Microsoft, News Corp. and Verizon, have concluded that social networking sites like MySpace and Bebo are far more harmless than most parents (and the government) currently think.
According to the study, only 7% of kids and teens surveyed have been the victims of cyberbullying, and 3% have had unwelcome communication attempted by strangers. Less than 1% have been found to actually follow through with an in-person movie. On the flip side, more than 80% of school districts surveyed have blocked chat rooms and instant messaging tools, with over half prohibiting forums and email accounts, as well as access to social networking sites. All in the name of safety.
What’s more, the NSBA actually suggests that children will be better off with access to social networking sites. I can see this as a somewhat valid point, for the purpose of being involved with typical cultural behavior. There’s something to be said about participating in the norm of larger society. However, it’s always more difficult to gain true responses from children and young adults, and it’s easy to be wary of a study about MySpace that’s funded by its parent company.
Nevertheless, the media and parental groups have always been a bit over-inflated when it comes to perceptions of online social networks. It’s more so about mental assurance than anything, like knowing a child is more likely to drown in a neighbor’s pool than in a car accident, yet parents put much more stock into buying a top-of-the-line car seat.