According to a new study conducted by California University Psychology Professor Dr. Larry Rosen (download press release here), the MySpace sexual predator reports in the media are widely overblown/unfounded (via apophenia)
Rosen’s study included interviews with 1,500 MySpacers and 250 parents and found that (partial list of findings – for full findings download pdf here):
- Only 7% of those teens interviewed were ever approached by anyone with a sexual intent and nearly all of them simply ignored the person and blocked him from their page.
- Two-thirds of the parents were sure that there were many sexual predators on MySpace, while only one-third of the teenagers shared this concern.
- Teenagers spend an average of 15 hours per week on MySpace.
- One in three admits their MySpace activity has negatively affected their schoolwork, family life, or both.
- Only one-third of the parents have seen their child’s MySpace page and only 16% check it on a regular basis.
- However, 70% of the adolescents said they would feel comfortable with their parents looking at their MySpace page.
Rosen makes an interesting point when he says “MySpace is the 13th largest country in the world. Teens live in this virtual world and parents need to pay attention. It is not a fad. It is not going away. And it is not a scary place. Teenagers can live and grow there with help from their parents.”
Meanwhile, the social networking space continues to heat up, with Bebo (a MySpace competitor especially popular in the UK) rejecting a $550M acquisition offer from British Telecom (apparently they are looking for offers north of $1b).
While there is no doubt that sites with that many users should be able to monetize their traffic, it is will be interesting to follow the emerging new marketing models that will make these sites truly scalable and predictable from a revenue point of view.