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Your e-mails about Dateline's MySpace report

I am very disturbed by this. Not by the fact that there are predators on Myspace. We all know that they are on there, but I am disburbed by the lack of parenting. I am very upset with the people out there who are trying to blame Myspace for what their kids do. These people need to start acting like Parents and stop blaming others for their lack of parenting. Websites like Myspace are a great way for people to stay in contact with one another. Parents need to start spending more time with their kids, if they do that, it will be okay. --Christy R., Cleveland, Ohio

You can’t put too much blame on MySpace itself. Yes, they probably could do more to prevent it, but parents are naturally put at a disadvantage by computers. Kids start learning on them at such a young age that many parents just sit back and marvel at them. But there are a few very basic steps parents can take to protect their children: 1)monitor the history of their web browser - press Ctrl-H and see where your child has been; 2) declare a “No Unknown Passwords” rule, so that if you feel the need to change something, you can do it; 3)enforce punishments for breaking the rules or going where they shouldn’t. Breaking an internet rule should be no different than breaking curfew. They may call it unfair, they may object to rules and punishments, but last I checked, that was part of parenting. It’s no different from not letting your 12-year-old see “Saving Private Ryan” in the theater. --Dave, Wauwatosa, Wis.

MySpace has no intention of enforcing its underage profile restriction. In March I emailed and provided them with the profile name of my step-niece because I had recently taken legal custody for her and knew she was not 14. I provided her real birthdate and requested the company remove her profile. MySpace balked and sent an email suggesting that I talk to my child. They clearly are accessories to this problem and their statements to the contrary are disingenuous on their face. I finally had to block all access to their site with professional software because there are numerous ways to access their site without typing in the address. Also, if a child tries to put in a birth year that demonstrates that they are underage, the software does nothing more than pop-up a message that says they have to be fourteen to use the site, and then waits for them to put in a false birth year. It does not kick them out from that point forward. It’s time for the law to require MySpace to verify a users age prior to allowing an account to be created. Movie theaters have check underage children, so should MySpace. May a good lawyer file a large class action suit to shut this terrible and dangerous site down soon! --Craig W., Vancouver, Wa.

I’m a mySpace user and I’m glad that this website is getting the attention it deserves now. I know that all the media attention mySpace is getting is due to the dangers it brings to minors. But I must remind you that adults are also part of this site and for most of us it is a way to reunite with old friends and keep in touch with current friends during our hectic lives. I am 24 and as most of my friends, we keep in touch through mySpace and use it to make plans for upcoming weekends. My 14 year old brother is also on mySpace and as most teens uses it to chat with friends after school. True, mySpace can be very risky for teenagers but I believe that it is the parents responsibility to know what is going on with their children.  --E. Gomez, Calif.

Thank you very much for doing this report... we had our daughter read it and she has changed all her settings and gone through her profile and deleted people she doesn’t really know. --Anonymous

Well the kids can’t be totally at fault, Myspace puts the spots [blanks] on there for your personal information. When the kids see that it can be there they feel like they have to put it there.  --Trey

I was just surfing along when I discovered “my space”....never heard of it...within a short while I had found my teenage grandchildren’s “space” and learned far more than they ever thought I could or would. Your “space” looks a lot different when you know Grandmother is watching. --Kitty K., Hull, Texas

Perhaps in future articles you might stress that teenagers who use MySpace irresponsibly this way also put their siblings at risk of becoming targets for the same predators. Teenagers think they are invulnerable and ‘in control’, but most would go to greater lengths to protect a younger brother or sister than themselves. It might be incentive to make them listen and be more cautious, even if they deny it as a threat to their own safety. --Limestone Co., Ala.

I just wanted to say that I am glad I read this. I am going to go look at my site and make sure that there is nothing on there that gives to much information. I may even put it as private. I am 21 years old and should have known all this. But now I am wondering what all is on my page that could give out clues. I know there are a lot of military wives on there. And I do talk to them often and people from when I was in school. Now I think I am just wondering. Thank you for doing this experiment. I am sure that I even learned something from it. --Mallory

I thought the program was great! It’s a scary world out there, and teens are just too trusting. I’m hoping that my granddaughter watched the show. --Princeton, W.Va.

I believe I am an “internet savvy” mom who watches out for her children and they have MySpace profiles. I also have a profile so I can keep up with what they are doing. I occasionally check thier profiles to see if they have friends that I don’t know and we chat about it. I ask questions of my daughter of who she is speaking to etc...then I check on my own so I have the knowledge that she is safe. Thank you for this lesson and how would I go about getting involved in something like this? --Audra, Overton, N.V.

I find this very troubling. As technology gets better, this will only grow into a greater can of worms. Parents need to take a more proactive approach to their child’s lives. As long as company’s can make alot of money, no or little control will be done on their part. Come on parents.....start doing a better job !!!! --Richard, Los Angeles, Calif.

From teens
I’m also a myspace user, but, unlike a lot of teenagers my age, it’s not my life. I’m rarely on. But I do have a list of questions/interviews that I answered, and my friends do post bulletins that may give up too much info. I have my profile set to private and I DO NOT talk to people that I don’t know. I think it’s because my mom has scared me so much. She’s had a lot of close encounters where something terrible could have happened to her, so I discussed joining myspace with her and told her what I was going to do with it, and we discussed what I was going to put on there and she okay’ed it. She sees my profile at least once a week because I show her new things on it, and she sees what I do regularly. --J

I did not like this article at all. MySpace is not a bad place. On the contrary, it’s fun for us young users. And we’re NOT stupid, we’re not dumb enough to fall for something like what older people think. --Jessica, Fresno, California

I am a 19 year old male and I post alot of personal information on myspace for the whole world to view. I find it’s simply justified, people don’t like it don’t look. Then again I am not in danger of being preyed upon by a predator. I meet alot of people through myspace and it can be a good expirence but none the less the danger is there as you are making apparent. BUT it does fall on the parents to monitor the information these kids are making public. The people in charge of myspace should not be held responsible for it’s 50 million plus users information, thats completely insane. I have seen alot of various pictures and personal information on myspace. Its the “cool thing” to do nowdays in the teen world, to go to a party and take pictures. I personally have seen pictures of the alleged binge drinking and apparent drug use. I have seen many many “provocative” pictures taken mostly in the home where the user is living, commonly in the bathroom mirror. These style of pictures have become known as a “typical myspace pic”. To me this is nothing new. I can’t stress the point enough that these parents are the ones at fault. I guess this is a very good example of “monkey see, monkey do”. A child sees something and finds that it is acceptable because their friends are doing so. --Tyler P., Manistee Mi.

I think that this is good because in my school there have been three reports from sexual preditors assualting students by meeting them via myspace. I just hope that people can learn that myspace isn’t worth the risk of you own life. Especially with technology these days, cell phone, texting, email, etc. There are many safer ways to communicate with your friends day to day.  --Addison, Ore.

I understand the reason why this topic was brought up about MySpace, but you make it seem like it’s the only site out there that online predators use to get victims. If someone wants to get information on someone for the wrong purposes then they could use AIM, Yahoo Messenger, or any other online community or chat room. If parents can’t keep an eye on their chilrdren online to make sure things like that don’t happen- maybe they should just not let their kids online, not blame a website. Everyone knows that there are perverts out there looking for some unsuspecting vitim that they can take advantage of- but there are also people who are out there that just want to meet people online to be friends online. --Kimmie, King, Nev.

I think this whole myspace thing is being blown out of proportion. If kids go to meet someone they don’t know its their own fault for being that stupid, not the website. In your report you made refrences to things that could potentially lead predators to a child, but things such as your favorite movies? cmon give me a break. I think people just want something else to be scared of or something to complain about. --Tim, St. Charles MO

This is all just drivel made to scare a nation of already paranoid parents. You think that we, teenagers are complete idiots with no idea with what goes on beyond our cell phones and video games. You portray us as so nieve as to think that there aren’t actually people behind the messages on these internet groups. Belive me, as a teenager, I am well aware that messages come from a live human whose intentions may be questionable, and they do not magically generate at their own accord. In fact, anyone that did not realize this would probably not have an IQ needed to successfully use the internet. If a “predator” did somehow brainwash one of us idiot teens into giving our name and address, it would be no different than if they had followed us home, or for that matter checked the phone book. Take in to account the actual percentage of people that are active pedophiles, and you can see how ludicrous this whole scare is. Please, these people have enough troubles without fearing the internet. --William Spitzer, Colo.

For the girls on Myspace...instead of bulletins, try writing blogs with a preferred list. Only put on people to read them that you ACTUALLY know. That survey can be a preferred blog so that predators cant read it. Preferred blogs can be very useful. You find your friends that you know and they will be the ONLY ones to be able to read your blogs. anyone else who tries will be told that its preferred and not able to be viewed. Stay safe in the future. Good luck! -- Meredith, Wilmington, N.C.

seriously, not every myspace is like that. not every kid does this. just the stupid ones who dont think before they type. my mom trusts me with my myspace...1. because i dont post personal info, 2. i dont show provocative pics, and 3. i deffinatly am more mature on the sight. i dont accept people who i dont know, and i delete any bad comments that someone leaves me. just letting you in on a little info about a lot of me and my friends who have myspaces, the people who post phone numbers. etc are dumb...they do not know what theyr doing...but i understand what your doing, and its a good thing that you care enough to inform clueless people about the awarness’s of myspace  --Name Witheld, Wisconsin

Hi, I have a myspace. Almost every day i get a comment from someone i dont know. i automatically deny that person. All the people that i talk to on my myspace are people who i know and who i know well. I think that it was a good idea to test these girls. My mother And father sat down with me after your show and went through all of my information on my space. My father and i had also changed some things for saftey. Thank you for making my parents and I aware of this situation. I will know to be more careful the next time i go on the computer. --Gabrielle, New Jersey