MySpace Caves

It’s all over the news… top stories on many newspapers. MySpace is finally caving and saying, “All right, All right… we do need to make some changes!”

I saw this article in my paper yesterday. CNN has one too. Still left a lot of questions. Like how will they really be able to “strenghen software to find underage users?” I would love that… but I’m skeptical.

Anastasia at YPULSE went into much greater detail about it… answered a few of the questions. She is updating some of the feedback from her questions already. For example, she notes that even though MySpace is going to default that 16 and 17 year olds profiles will be set to private, they can go in and change them back to public.

Another interesting fact is that adults can never add people under 16 unless they know their email or last name. I think that is a VERY GOOD thing. No complaints from me on that one.

NEW INFO: YPULSE’s Anastasia just linked another article on her recent post that talks about a hole in MySpace’s architecture that allows anyone who’s interested to see the photographs of some users with private profiles — including those under 16 — despite assurances from MySpace that those pictures can only be seen by people on a user’s friends list. WOW. And now that is fixed.

But MySpace is trying to make changes.

Marko, in his blog raised the question, “I wonder how this will effect youth ministry?” Good question. I don’t think this particular change (adults not being able to add kids under 16 without knowing their email) won’t effect it at all. As a youth worker, I only would be contacting the kids I know anyway. So the only kids I would add would be kids who I already know thier email, last name, dog’s name, address, girlfriend’s name, etc.

My two cents as a parent. Myspace has to make some serious strides before I’m confortable letting my kids on it. Not necessarily because of safety… but simply because of the smutty pictures. My 14 year old boy doesn’t need to be dodging pictures of girls in thongs as he browses the web.

A parent walked up to me after a parent seminar I did in PA last Sunday and asked me, “I finally gave in and just let my 13 year old son on MySpace last week. Was that a mistake?” I told her this:

“That’s a decision only you can make. But two things: 1. You have to be 14 to even be on MySpace. So your son had to lie to get a membership. You have to ask yourself if that’s okay. (I didn’t tell her, “Is that okay when you’re going to the movies too? How about on our taxes… is it okay to lie there too?”)

2. I give you this challenge. Go onto Myspace and start clicking around on people’s pictures. Click from one kid to another at your kid’s school. Click several degrees of seperation… because maybe your son’s inner circle of friends are really cool kids. But click a couple degrees of separation from there. Then, be savy like a 13 year old boy would be. Go to the browse section. That button alone will probably be as far as you need to click to find smut. But… if you want to be like many boys, from browse, do an advanced search. Note that you can search for a certain ‘orientation,’ like a bi-sexual. Try searching for bi-sexuals in your area that are on MySpace looking for a relationship. See what you find.”

Then I left her this challange. “If you can click around for 1 minute without seeing a picture of a girl in a thong, then I’ll give you $5!”

That’s $5 I’ll never have to pay. (and yes, my kids aren’t on MySpace)

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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