A lot or a little?
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this new version of Myspace is even more focused on music than the "classic" version. Think Pinterest meets Spotify -- social networking elements still exist, but the emphasis is on connecting with artists or content you like, not accumulating friends. Compared to the classic Myspace, user content is clean -- racy photos are few and far between. However, there are many different artists and genres represented on the site, so teens can find music with sexual or violent content if they're looking for it.
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What's it about?
The new version of MYSPACE preserves some of the social networking features of the original, but amps up its focus on music. You can find friends on Myspace, but you're also encouraged to discover new artists and other users who share your musical taste. Create a profile and begin "connecting" with musicians, fans, or an album or song. Connecting is like following someone on Twitter or Google+; you can follow someone, have that person follow you, or both. You can also create mixes and share content with your "collaborators," as the site refers to them. Users can synch their Myspace profiles to Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Is it any good?
The new version of Myspace creates a very different experience from the original. The design is sleek, with horizontal scrolling and an aesthetic that's more reminiscent of an ad agency than a social networking site. Musicians and other artists who want to showcase their creations can build a sophisticated portfolio; fans can use "connections" to curate a profile that shows off their taste and leads them to other like-minded users. The navigation can be confusing -- it's not very intuitive -- but the site offers a virtual tour and guides to using new features. (You might have to read them more than once.) The music player is excellent.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how social music sites help kids express their musical taste -- and cultivate a certain image. Are there artists you wouldn't admit to liking because they're not cool?
Tune in to what your teens are listening to. Let them control the music on a family road trip or in a common area at home.
Talk about making your own music. Encourage kids to express themselves by writing lyrics or taking up an instrument. Lots of websites offer how-to tutorials for beginners.
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