Whether you're an executive with your own profile, or just know about it because your 14-year-old child spends hours tweaking their profile every day or two, you're probably well aware of MySpace.
Sign up once and Tom is your first friend. Search for others based on location, name, what year they graduated from your college or high school. You can friend (no longer befriend) actual friends, celebrities' official pages, celebrities' fan pages, bands that you love or want to get to know better, and even tag some SEO professionals.
Actually, you can friend any entity that has a MySpace profile, as long as you can find the official profile. For example, you can be counted amongst Wake Forest's friends, check your weight with Curves foods, catch up on the perfect pint of Guinness, and pick up the latest trailers from the new horror flick "Quarantine."
Then pimp out your profile, upload pictures, start a blog, and you're out there for the whole world to see.
MySpace can be dangerous. Stories have surfaced from Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan's personal, "private" photos being hacked and spread all over the Internet, to kids getting suspended from school, to colleges denying graduating high school seniors admission.
The good thing about MySpace is that anything you put up there can be seen by anyone. The bad thing is that anything you put up there can be seen by anyone.
High schools are scanning MySpace to see what's really going on in social circles. Colleges are scouring the Internet to see what their applicants are really like. And once you're all growed up? Prospective and current employers are checking you out, and they're starting with MySpace.
At the other end of the danger room are the same lurking questions that began and continue with chat rooms. The Internet offers some anonymity, and can harbor dangers for kids who aren't very Internet savvy or wise to the trappings of predators.
To avoid these problems, MySpace has taken steps to educate their users, putting out public service announcements to keep parents in the loop and partnering with other sites for the same reasons. One person's firsthand account of visiting MySpace offers a very positive experience.
But it's not all bad. Like most Web-based tools, especially social marketing tools, it's a double-edged sword.
While some schools eschew the idea of MySpace in the classroom, other curricula embrace social media. Oh, the humanity! Why? If you can pull the aptitude and savvy of students from what they like to do outside class into the classroom, it makes for a more interactive environment. Engaged students learn more and retain more of what they learn.
We mentioned that a foolish profile can cripple you at college application time. But a clean profile can do just the opposite. Instead of a blog, perhaps you post your unpublished essays and poetry and express interest in the arts and education. Some colleges are actively pursuing recruitment through social media like MySpace.
There's the good with the bad, and because people will take advantage of any media presented to them, we have to take them both together. The fact that there's so much good out there is a cause for celebration and time for all of us to embrace these opportunities as they emerge.
Want more information about these types of topics? Why not visit the International Society for Technology in Education MySpace page, grab a burrito, and get to learning.
Have you used MySpace for anything related to education? How has MySpace positively or negatively affected your life? We'd love to hear from you!
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