A high school freshman in Massachusetts threatened classmates online. A 14-year-old in Georgia said he would blow up the White House. Two 17-year-olds went on a pyromaniacal spree in Washington, setting fire to stores, a bowling alley and a bus. Police have arrested all four in the past month--with the help of the teens themselves, who confessed the crimes openly on their pages at MySpace.com
Actually, "bragged" might be more apt. The confessions are all about showing off, says Trench, the scribe at MyCrimeSpace com which tracks the growing number of crime stories with MySpace twists. (He goes by a pseudonym because he has received death threats for his efforts.) "These teens just want to see how many MySpace friends they can get--the wrong friends."
The line between public and private is blurry to many youths, who see MySpace as a safe haven. Justine Cassell, a psychologist at Northwestern University, says, "Kids have an egocentrism. They believe they can see others and others can't see them." Trench isn't sure the logic is that complex. "I hate to insult kids," he says, "but they don't think."