MySpace is one of many social networking web sites on the Internet today that over seventy million people use. Social networking websites such as MySpace and Facebook have made it so that people all over the world can find friends and family members as well as join different groups with many different people. The tragedy however is that some of the social networking users are young children who have the potential of finding relationships with sexual predators and others who are out to harass and cyber bully. Megan Meier is just one incident in which social networking went terribly wrong. But how does the Megan Meier suicide affect other MySpace users?
Young MySpace Users
The Megan Meier hoax on MySpace got the attention of people all over the world, especially young MySpace users. Many young children do not consider the ramifications of using a social network and were not aware of other adult users that can and will abuse the system. Although the women responsible for hurtful emails that eventually led to Megan Meier’s death did not intend to kill her, it opened the eyes of many young and innocent users. Many have recognized the importance of making their profiles private and to only add those that they know in real life as friends. Some precautions for children to take if they are part of a social networking web site are:
•Never add anyone to your friend list unless you have met them in real life.
•Never give out personal information when filling out your profile such as phone numbers, addresses, or even social security numbers.
•Talk with parents about using a social network and make sure they know your screen name and password so they can help you recognize unauthorized users and sexual predators.
Adult MySpace Users
While young children may be taking more consideration on safety measures to protect themselves, adult MySpace users have definitely been affected by the Megan Meier suicide as well. For many adult users it has brought to life a realization that it can happen to just about anyone. Adult users are much more careful about who they include as friends and what groups they decide to join.
Perhaps the most widely affected group of adults after the Megan Meier hoax is parents of children that use MySpace or that will be using the social networking sites. Parents have become much more aware of the severity of children using social networks and how important it is for them to take an active role in the social networking world with their child to ensure their own child’s safety. There are many things that parents can do to help keep their children safe if they are using a social network.
•Don’t let children become part of a social network until they are sixteen years old. This really is the most appropriate age because they are then mature enough to handle the different aspects of social networking
•Always know your child’s screen name and password so you can keep an eye on messages that are sent to their inbox, what sort of traffic is getting sent to their profile page, and who their friends are.
•It’s not a bad idea to become part of the social network they have signed up for so that you can become more familiar with the features and how it all works. Then make sure you add your child as a friend and they do the same.
•Teach your child how to use the privacy settings so that unauthorized users cannot enter into their profile page without permission.
The Megan Meier suicide affected other MySpace users as well as users from other social networks as well. Many of the social networking sites have tried to increase and raise their safety bar so that users will feel safer when they enter the social networking world. MySpace users will definitely be using some of their own safety measures however to ensure the safety of themselves and their children.