I have written several articles over the years about the potential consequences of young people placing inappropriate material on the Internet - losing out on college admissions when a college admissions officer finds a very different image of a young man or woman than what they wrote in their application, a lost job when a potential employer sees a Facebook site, etc.
In light of these situations, which are mostly the unintended consequence of youthful bravado, it was great to read studies co-led by a University of Wisconsin - Madison researcher which appeared in the January issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. To test whether a warning could make a difference, UW School of Medicine and Public Health assistant professor Megan Moreno sent the following message to the MySpace to a number of young people who referenced sex or substance abuse on their sites.
The e-mail read in part: "I noticed something on your MySpace profile that concerned me. You seemed to be quite open about sexual issues or other behaviors such as drinking or smoking. Are you sure that's a good idea? After all, if I could see it, anybody could."
According to Dr. Moreno, "In light of this study, parents and other adults should be encouraged that they can make a difference in young people's behavior. There is no guarantee of success but it is worth the effort."