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Give Them Some Space

Caitlyn McNeil, a 16-year-old from Owings, Maryland, and Chris Luty, an 18-year-old from Silver Spring, Maryland, answer questions about teenagers’ use of MySpace.

Do students at your school bully their classmates by posting mean comments or fake “imposter” pages for them?

Caitlyn: I’ve seen that maybe five times at the most. Very rarely will some kid go and post mean things about another person. Plus, if someone creates a page about you, you can go and tell MySpace about it and they’ll take it down.

Chris: I have never seen that happen. So far no one I know has used MySpace to hurt anybody or anything like that. The most I’ve seen is someone posting a question on a bulletin, like, “Why would he do that?” But they don’t use names.

Why do some students keep their profiles open and post photos of themselves engaging in illegal activities, such as drinking?

Caitlyn:   I’ve seen that happen. I think they do it just to show off. Just to be like, “I can do this and you can’t.” But none of my friends would do anything like that.

Chris:  I think it’s because they believe certain activities (drinking, smoking, etc.) will make them appear to be “cool,” so they put it on their page because they believe that it will better their reputations. Personally, I think that anyone who puts anything on the Internet that incriminates themselves or shows themselves in a negative light is just stupid. And if they do, but don’t make their pages private, then I think they deserve to get caught.

Should schools or monitor student pages to make sure they aren’t bullying their classmates or posting inappropriate content?

Caitlyn:  I don’t think that the school should get into it. MySpace wasn’t set up by the school so the school should have nothing to do with it. If something posted on MySpace affects a student that badly [that he or she misses school], there’s a problem with how hard the kid is taking it. That student needs to go and talk to somebody about what’s really bothering them.

Chris:  I would be against that only because you don’t have the same restrictions at home, where most students use MySpace, that you do at school. If schools monitored student pages, it could [unfairly] alter teachers’ impressions of their students. Most people act differently at school than they do at home.