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Teens Divulge Risky Behavior on Social Networking Sites
Date:1/5/2009

But e-mail intervention may spur some adolescents to change, study finds,,

MONDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- More than half of teens who use the social networking site MySpace have posted information about sexual behavior, substance abuse or violence, new research shows.

The good news, according to a second study from the same research group, is that a simple intervention -- in this case, an-e-mail from a physician -- made some of the teens change their risky behaviors.

"I was surprised, at least to some extent, at how clearly teens were discussing behaviors that we struggle to get out of them," said Dr. Megan Moreno, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

"Once we started getting the findings, we wondered, why are they doing this?" Moreno said. "Do they not get it? And, if they don't understand that this is public, can we send them a cautionary message to let them know just how public their information really is?" Moreno was working at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Research Institute at the time the studies were done.

"We need to devise ways to teach teens and their parents to use the Internet responsibly," study senior author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute, said in a statement.

Results from the two studies appear in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

More than 90 percent of teens in the United States have access to the Internet, according to background information from the studies. About half of all teens who use the Internet also use social networking sites, such as MySpace and Facebook. MySpace boasts more than 200 million profiles, according to the studies, and about one-quarter of those belong to teens under 18.

Moreno and her colleagues randomly selected 500 MySpace
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