Teens and tweens spend a lot of time on social networking websites, like MySpace, Facebook and Xanga. But guess what – boys and girls use them differently! According to a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, girls go online to hang out and gossip with the friends they already have. While boys log on to make new friends, and to flirt with girls. Here’s what else the study reveals:

  • Over half of the teenagers in the United States use social networking sites.
  • Older girls are more likely than older boys to create online profiles.
  • And most teenagers know about the risks of revealing too much personal information – and take steps to protect their privacy. Which should make parents, politicians and school officials happy.
  • Also in the study: Most of the girls said that they were afraid of the “creepy 40-year-old man coming after” them. The good news is – not one of them said that an adult stranger had actually contacted them.                               

Obviously, if you’re a parent, you should keep an eye on what your kids are up to online. But these facts should help you breathe a sigh of relief.

Also good news: According to The Wall Street Journal, MySpace.com plans to offer free parental notification software. Parents will be able to use the software, named “Zephyr,” to find out what name, age and location their children use to represent themselves on MySpace. Parents wouldn’t be able to read their children’s e-mail or see their profile pages, and it would alert children that their information was being shared. But it could also keep a kid more honest so they don’t into trouble.