I came across an article referencing MySpace that I agree with. It is an interview with a social researcher who has taken a real look at social network sites and activity. My bias: I support teens’ access to and use of social network sites.
The researcher divides the users of those sites into 2 groups. 1) (by far the larger group) those individuals who use the social network sites as an extension of their off-line lives, and 2) marginalized kids who substitute their online lives for community off-line.
Teens for the most part use the sites to talk to others they already know, building relationships not meeting “others”. These sites are just a part of their “new” social repertoire that includes cell phones, texting and the Internet. Realizing this, adults should not fear their use of these sites, as long as their child is in group 1. If their child is in group 2, they (the teen) need “help” for a variety of reasons, the least of which is their Internet usage.
We also need to keep in mind (as she states in the interview) that there has never been an abduction linked to these Internet sites. There have been “runaway situations”, but likely they would likely have occurred in some other “form” without the use of the Internet involved.