All the publicity about teenagers posting private information on MySpace must be sinking in. A new study showed that most underage users of the social networkng site aren't posting personal information or photos that could attract pedophiles, reports Reuters.
Although the study concluded that a good percentage of underage users still post questionable and provocative photos, the good news is that 91% of the teen profiles reviewed did not list full names. About 40% of youngsters on MySpace keep their profiles private and are only viewable to fellow MySpacers on their friends' list, the study showed.
"Kids are using MySpace responsibly. They are getting the message," said Justin Patchin, assistant professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. Patchin conducted the study with Sameer Hinduja, a criminology professor at Florida Atlantic University.
The bad news is that is that 5% posted pictures of themselves in bathing suits or underwear. Also, 15% of the profiles viewed showed friends in bathing suits or underwear.
"We hope that more parents, teachers and administrators join the ongoing discussion and realize that social networking sites, like MySpace, are not going away," Hinduja said.
There are safeguards on MySpace, such as prohibiting youngsters 13 and under from setting up accounts but underage users routinely create false profiles and misrepresent their ages, Hinduja said.
The study confirms other research currently underway at the Crimes Against Children Research Center, based at the University of New Hampshire, according to the center's Director David Finkelhor. Those findings are not yet available.
"While the majority of children do seem to be protecting themselves, there are a substantial amount of under age users indicated in the study who are still putting themselves at risk," Finkelhor said.