MySpace itself isn’t the security issue. The community is only as safe as its users. If teens are smart about how they use MySpace, they should have no problems with its safety. The developers and staff at the website are always doing everything they can to improve security against unwanted spammers, etc., but when it comes down to it, teens need to be aware of what they’re doing.
The first obvious way to go about this is to set MySpace profiles to “private” so that only those who are accepted as friends will be able to see the content of the page. Following from this, no user, teen or otherwise, should ever accept a friend request from someone they don’t know. That would defeat the purpose of setting the profile to private because it would open up all kinds of personal information to a perfect stranger with unknown motives.
Something else to avoid is provocative pictures. This isn’t technically allowed on the site, but it slips by all the time. This will guarantee that you get unwanted attention. Girls, you may be trying to impress that hot boy in your math class with the pictures of you in your bikini, but you never know when someone else is checking out those pictures. Basically, if you wouldn’t show it to your parents, don’t put it on MySpace.
The biggest safety issue on MySpace, when it really comes right down to it, is that parents aren’t aware of what their teens are doing. More and more parents are creating their own profiles now just to keep an eye on what the kids are posting and making sure they stay out of trouble. That’s not to say that parents should squash their kids’ social lives, but they should most definitely be aware of what’s going on. If you, as a parent, don’t want to create an account, then at least monitor the kids while they’re using MySpace or set their accounts up for them so that you know their password. Regulate computer usage so that they can’t be on it at all hours unsupervised. MySpace is a great site for keeping in touch with friends, but it’s up to the parents and the teens to work together to continue to make it as safe as it can be for today’s youth.