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FAMILY: 29,000 Sex Offenders on MySpace

By asoglin
Tuesday, July 24th, 2007 at 3:26 pm in Health & Safety, Kids & Tweens, Teens.

Internet predators are today’s version of the monster under the bed, the wolf in the forest and the perv in the park, frightening tales that run through our culture and that reinforce the basic common sense rules you give your kids: don’t talk to strangers, don’t wander into dark places, and realize that even the kindliest person may be a wolf in disguise. So today’s news that more than 29,000 registered sex offenders have profiles on — four times the number the social networking site quoted two months ago — should serve not so much as cause for gibbering, shrieking alarm, but a potent reminder to parents that kids need to use those same common sense rules when they wander online.

That 29,000 figure certainly sounds alarming, but it’s slightly less so when you realize it represents a fraction of MySpace’s 100 million-plus users. To compare, as of April 2007, California had 110,305 registered sex offenders in a population of more than 26 million adults (The most recent census estimate in 2004 put the state’s adult population at 26.3 million.)

That’s not to say that parents should totally relax about their children’s forays into MySpace and other social network sites — in fact, media and youth culture expert Anastasia Goodstein, author of “Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens are Really Doing Online,” says tweens shouldn’t be on MySpace at all. And the National Institute on Media and the Family strongly urges parents to “watch what your kids watch” on TV and at the cineplex, to “play what your kids play” in video games, and “surf what your kids surf” online. Be aware. Be proactive.

Most teens are savvy about online dangers. The same cannot be said for their younger sibs. It’s up to parents to rectify that, and you can find some helpful tips here. After all, you wouldn’t send your treat-toting kid to grandma’s without warning him or her about the wolves in the forest.
Jackie Burrell

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No Responses to “FAMILY: 29,000 Sex Offenders on MySpace”

  1. Ari Soglin Says:

    The Computer World story linked in Jackie’s post says: “The North Carolina legislation being proposed suggests that social networking sites verify a parent’s identity through a public database and then follow up with a phone call or letter to ensure that the parent actually gave the child permission to use the site.” Any sites subjected to that legislation would lose a huge percentage of their registered users. But I have a hard time believing it would keep kids offline. Even if it became a federal law, wouldn’t teens migrate to a site based outside the U.S. that isn’t subject to the restrictions. Hmm, anyone own

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