Students across the nation are franticly searching for a computer to check their space online at myspace.com. People are logging on for hours and hours to post the hottest pictures of themselves, find old friends, leave comments, search for new videos and music, and browse for strangers to meet in the area.
Currently there are 43 million people on Myspace and the website has become the third most visited site online according to NBC news.
As the Myspace community grows, the countless number of photos of girls in their underwear increases. And as the demographic gets younger the question must be asked: who will be attracted to this site? It is not just kids from school or a friendly neighbor; this site is a porthole for pedophiles.
“I’ve gotten a friend request from guys over 40 more than five times and they will send messages that say ‘hey you’re cute, what’s up,’ I never write them back,” said student Airica Prange.
Fifty-percent of myspace users are 35 or older, according to comScore Media Metrix's analysis of its U.S. Internet traffic measurements.
“My little cousin who is ten is on myspace and it grosses me out that some 45-year-old guy has access to hit on her,” said Prange.
Despite popular belief, there are only thirty-percent of people that are under 25.
“[Myspace] shows a lot of examples of how the Internet can persuade naïve people,” said Samantha Rodden, a frequent Myspace user.
In Connecticut a month ago, a 21-year-old man was arrested for allegedly raping a 14-year-old girl he met on myspace, according to NBC news.
“If you’re a pedophile, it might be a great way to go shopping,” said Myspace and Facebook user, Matt Simpson.
“That’s the thing, I like myspace in the fact that we can talk to each other, especially if [my friends] live far away, but there are little kids on their that aren’t taught to not talk to strangers,” said Prange.
Many students have tuned into the NBC show “Dateline”, a special on pedophiles. The network creates usernames and identifies themselves as either a 13 year-old boy or girl to see how far these pedophiles will go for their addiction. Many of the people writing to the network online actually go to the 13 year-olds’ house with the intention of sleeping with the minor.
“I think it’s just a reflection of the real world, online chatting doesn’t create pedophiles, it’s the exposed percentage of pedophiles who are shown as they really are,” said student Christine Aney.
Prange said she only talks to people that she knows and never adds strangers.
Simpson said he likes Facebook better because you can find people through their schools and he also likes the confidentially element of Facebook.
“My old myspace had over 500 friends and I deleted it because it wasn’t private or about keeping in touch with my friends,” said Eric Borlaug, student body president of Santa Barbara City College.
“If you use myspace you should know what can happen,” said Simpson.
MySpace was conceived as a cyber community where people in the same city or on opposite ends of the Earth could meet and correspond said Myspace co- founder Tom Anderson to NBC. But how close is too close?
“It’s as close as you let people get to you,” said Aney.