Thursday, February 23, 2006

My MySpace Anniversary

I have a MySpace account.

The account does not state my real name or my correct age, in fact it says my name is Milo and I'm a cat.

On March 20th I will have had the account for one year. I set up the page to watch my children ages 20 & 22. They both know I have the account and they both post on my page occasionally. I'm sure their content is occasionally modified to make it fit for daddy's eyes. It has been an interesting year to say the least.

Dean Shareski from Moose Jaw did some exploring of MySpace this weekend and had the following observations:
  • Most don't actually blog, they only post photos and receive comments. In that sense, I hope we stop calling MySpace a blog site when for the most part it's simply a social networking site.
  • The "f-word" is pretty common place.
  • Most of the conversation, while not what I would consider appropriate was not malicious but mostly encouraging
  • Some sites are used to post their personal music and video productions
Motivated by Dean I did a browse of the MySpace users that claim to be between the ages of 35 - 45 within a 5 mile radius of my house and found 246 people. 1,310 people between the ages of 18 - 21 & 1,685 kids between the ages of 16 - 18. Now granted, my page says I'm a 15 year old cat, so who knows the real ages of these folks but there are over 3,000 accounts set up within a 5 mile radius of my house. That's quite a few for the small town of Graham, WA.

Unless you create a MySpace account you can't see the pages of others. When talking to parents, I regularly recommend they set up an account and tell their children. I rarely do anything with the account but watch, explore and spy on the sites of my children and their My Space "friends". I deny all friend requests, except for the real live friends of my kids. I have found if I want all of them to get a message I deliver it through MySpace...it never fails, they always get it.

Yesterday I had lunch with Margie Jensen and we talked about MySpace. Margie is the Director of Student Services for the Puyallup School District. She is responsible for interpreting our policy when assisting administrators dealing with reports of threats or slander including those made using MySpace. She has consulted law enforcement and legal counsel regarding the actions that we as a school district can take to discipline students that make threats in these forums.

Margie stated that MySpace is blocked in our district and as such any content on these pages would have been created off campus. Blocking the site also blocks staff from investigating reports. If MySpace threats are substantiated law enforcement is called. Slander issues on MySpace are not under school district jurisdiction. If child abuse is reported on MySpace we follow regular policy and legal reporting obligations. In addition, all secondary administrators have been briefed on the MySpace issue.

As my one year MySpace anniversary looms near and I reflect on my conversation with Margie, it is clear that MySpace in particular has consumed a great deal of Margie's attention and mine. For different reasons we're both trying to figure out MySpace and respond to our kids increasing desire to create content and publish on the web...to get attention...to get noticed...to speak their mind...without proper informational literacy skills. We see two different sides of the same coin.

I still think we can harness the energy and excitement that an authentic audience brings for good...I think Will, Dean and Margie do too.

4 Comments:

  • wow myspace is wild

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:59 PM  

  • I've been to Moose Jaw!

    By Blogger Betsy's Blog, at 3:39 PM  

  • Glenn, thanks for the balanced approach / thoughts on MySpace.com.

    Some of the stop-MySpace-in-schools furor seems prototypical when relatively new technologies gain wide adoption by kids. How many districts still won't give kids e-mail accounts?

    Rock and a hard place, especially if some parents aren't taking responsibility for what their kids are doing from home.

    By Blogger Matt Huston, at 10:30 AM  

  • I can't wait for educators to begin jumping into these spaces in the same way our students are. E-mail is going the way of the dinosaur, and social-networking sites, blogs and RSS feeds seem to be the future. I am working on some curriculum utilizing MySpace, Facebook or something like them to communicate. That is the way you reinvent these spaces.

    More of my thoughts on my blog:
    The MySpace Generation
    Even John Stewart is on MySpace

    By Anonymous arvind, at 3:01 PM  

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