Porn, pedophiles, our kids and MySpace

Rebecca Hagelin
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Posted: May 30, 2006 12:04 AM
MySpace.com has quickly become the malt shop for today’s teens -- but, unlike Al’s place in “Happy Days,” this virtual “hang out” is also frequented by unsavory characters who are after our kids. What most teens see as just a fun place to connect with friends has become a sexual predator’s and pornographer’s playground.

As The New York Times reported on May 27, the site’s content has become so skanky that even some corporate advertisers, including Weight Watchers and T-Mobile, are either pulling their ads from MySpace or threatening to do so.

The pages of sex-film stars like Jenna Jameson and Tera Patrick are quickly becoming popular with America’s teens as evidenced by the thousands of “friends” -- other MySpace users who ask for full access to a user’s page. Those pages, in turn, link to the stars’ own homepages, which are often replete with explicit pornographic images.

Some of the stars’ “friends” are as young as 14. Others are undoubtedly younger -- one need only state their age, no ID or proof required. Most of the linked porn sites post a simple warning that says something like, “Click here to enter if you’re over 18,” and that’s it.

And if it wasn’t bad enough having porn stars market themselves directly to your children, try this: Some of the morally depraved individuals who operate behind the camera post profiles on MySpace as well -- and they actually encourage girls to send them pictures and contact them about getting involved in the porn business.

Take Eon McKai, a Los Angeles man who works for VCA, a porn company owned by Hustler. In his MySpace profile, he admits, “I make smut” and puts this under the heading “Who I’d like to meet” (typos in the original):

Cool people not kids but young adults or poeple who fell like young adults that are open minded and like porn and want to be apart of my movement to make it better... If you want to be a porn star... I’m the guy that can make that happen for real... but I’ll look you in the eye first to make sure you can hang...any Emo, Punk or Goth kids... your all my friends... be stylish and cute as all hell.

As with most MySpace profile pages, McKai has many “friends” who have posted messages and pictures. One is from a girl named Jess who writes: “hey love! i’m live on my web cam right NOW!! come play with me!!!” Then she lists a porn site that, she notes, is “free for myspace members!”

Perhaps more disturbing is the number of young women who note in their MySpace profiles that they consider themselves aspiring porn stars. One named Alice in Connecticut writes: “I am shy if you meet me for real but what goes on behind closed doors is a different matter! Just on here looking to meet new My Space people because I was bored and thought it could be a tad interesting...just a tad... LOL. I’ve been coming out of my shell lately and doing more modeling and stuff. Even though it is CRAZY, I really AM studying to be a porn star.”

Many other profiles on MySpace can’t even be quoted here because they are so vile. Even with all the negative media reports about pedophiles hunting kids through MySpace, most parents are still clueless about the content and dangers.

MySpace is just the latest example of the creeping oversexualization of our culture that I describe in my book, Home Invasion (written before MySpace became so popular with our youth). The truth is that pornographers aren’t content to exist only in their own sick little corner of the Internet: They’ve got to troll for new victims. And they do it by wading into what amounts to an Internet kiddie pool and snagging innocent kids. That’s why your child’s e-mail inbox is constantly filled with spam porn. It’s why sites such as MySpace have been infiltrated by perverts. It’s why you’ve got to be worried about what’s going on within the “safety” of your own home if you have unlimited, unmonitored Internet access.

Parents, vigilance is key. Protecting your kids from Internet smut may be hard, but it’s not impossible. Talk to your kids. Keep your computer in a common area. Limit Internet time. Know who your kids are chatting with online. And get an Internet filter -- NOW! There are many great, inexpensive filters on the market, but I use the filter from BSafe.com.

When I first started researching the dangers and garbage prevalent on MySpace months ago, I asked my then-13-year-old daughter, “Kristin, do you know about a site called MySpace?” She replied with a sigh, “Yes, Mom. But I can’t get to it because our filter blocks it out!” After whispering a prayer of thanks for such a great filter, I asked her, “How many of your friends have pages on MySpace?” She replied, “All of them.” What followed, of course, was a serious discussion of why her time was best spent elsewhere.

And guess what ... she “got it.” When I took the time to let Kristin know about the kind of folks flocking to the site to market to and even stalk America’s youth, she instinctively understood that there are better places to hang out.

The point here is that our teens are not dumb -- they just need parents to guide them. Don’t let your silence about a cultural fad like MySpace be misinterpreted by your child as a stamp of approval.

I believe the Internet has the ability to be one of the great liberators of the American family. It allows parents to work from home and puts the wonders of the world at our fingertips. But it is also a web of weirdos. It’s up to parents to harness the good and filter out the bad. With the millions of great sites that serve our families well, there’s no need for our kids to spend time on a place like MySpace that refuses to act responsibly by filtering out the pornographers.

You wouldn’t let a pervert or pedophile enter your home or speak on the phone with your child, would you? So why on Earth are you letting your kids hang out with them online?