Strangers A ‘Cost of Doing Business’ On MySpace

    October 15, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

The latest report from Pew Internet and American Life Project confirms what might be common sense about teens and social networking, but also has a couple of surprises. The not-a-shocker news: photos and social networking profiles increase the likelihood your son or daughter is approached by a creep.

What you may not want to hear: The kids are cool with this; they consider it a "cost of doing business."

In general, girls are more likely than boys to be approached by a stranger, and are more likely to feel uncomfortable or scared about it. Thirty-nine percent of girls have been approached, compared to 24 percent of boys; while 11 percent of girls reported feeling scared or uncomfortable, only four percent of boys reported the same

The likelihood of contact goes up significantly among those with social networking profiles and photos of themselves posted. Overall, 44 percent of those with profiles and 49 percent of those with posted photos have been contacted by people they don’t know, with nine and ten percent, respectively, saying they were uncomfortable or scared by the contact.

Comparatively, only 16 percent of those with no profile or no photos posted reported such contact from those other than their friends, and five percent or less reported being uncomfortable or scared.

Interestingly, of those that have been contacted by strangers online, those with profiles are less likely to be uncomfortable with the experience.

"This result is not necessarily surprising since nearly half (49%) of social networking teens use these sites to make new friends—in other words, connect with people they do not currently know," says Pew research specialist Aaron Smith, author of the study.

"It may also be the case that profile-owning teens see some level of unwanted contact as a known downside of maintaining a social networking profile and view it as a relatively minor ‘cost of doing business’ in this environment.

Interestingly, Internet monitoring software that allows parental supervision appears to be more effective than online filtering for preventing unwanted contact from strangers.