BASED ON RECENT NEWS REPORTS, you might think that something incredibly dangerous has burst on the scenethat there's a predator lurking behind nearly every keyboard waiting to sexually assault a teenager. Well, predators and tragic cases of sexual assault do exist, but before you yank the broadband modem out of the wall, consider the real risks.
We recently heard about a video that exposes the "current pandemic of sexual predation via the Internet" (from a company that offers a monitoring service), and plenty of other people are only too willing to tell you about the "growing epidemic" of kids who have been victims of Internet-related sexual exploitation. It's enough to scare a parent to death.
But despite a handful of truly tragic situations, the facts are that:
Most news reports about MySpace in the first few months of 2006 concerned a handful of tragic cases involving men contacting teen girls on MySpace and persuading them to meet offline for sex. Then the number of school-related stories about threats to peers and teachers started growing.
We've also seen a few stories about identity theft on MySpace. Most of these stories concerned kids' user names and passwordsin other words, the peer-to-peer harassment we'll be hearing more about from the media as reporters move beyond the predation story.