What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that even though TeenSpot is advertised for teens; it's in fact not for kids at all. The website includes a wide variety of entertainment information; from popular games and movies to celebrity gossip and fashion. Users are encouraged to create profile accounts and engage in the "Meet People" section. Similar to "Myspace," this section of the site allows teens to "friend" one another and to post comments on each other's pages. Accounts are created by choosing a nickname, sexual preference, age, and by uploading a photo. Many users choose names such as "hotwildsex" "kissylips" and "sweet-temptation." Users are supposed to be over 13 and younger than 23 to register, however it is not difficult to create an account without showing proof of age. Once a profile is created people are free to search for other singles and engage in chat rooms. The chat rooms and profile pages are occupied by flirting teens propositioning one another. Profiles are also rated by other users for "most popular" person and "hottest" guy and girl.
Is it any good?
Rather than focusing on informative media coverage, TeenSpot has become an online dating space for teens. If monitored and used appropriately it covers an array of information about pop culture; unfortunately, social networking overrides what could have been. Users are more interested in flirting and sending sexy messages than discussing the best games and top movie choices of the week. The primary focus and interest on the site are which users are "hot or not," along with which users are the "most popular." Topics such as this can lead to emotional and psychological destruction and opens the door for cyberbullying. TeenSpot is a good idea in essence, but fails to provide a safe and positive place where teens can express themselves.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the importance of Internet safety. What are the risks of chatting with someone that you don't know online?
Families can also talk about cyberbullying. What is the best way to approach someone who is doing the bullying?
How does it feel to be rated on your looks? Discuss the problem with this sort of online activity. Why are some teens drawn to this type of interaction?