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.

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

Moreno and her colleagues randomly selected 500 MySpace profiles from people who reported their age as 18. They collected the information during the summer of 2007.

They found that 54 percent of the profiles contained information on risky behaviors, with 24 percent referencing sexual behaviors, 41 percent referring to substance abuse and 14 percent posting violent information.

For the second study, the researchers randomly selected 190 profiles of people between 18 and 20 who displayed risky behaviors, such as sexual information. Half were sent an e-mail from a physician that pointed out that the physician had noticed risky behavior on their profile and suggested changing the displayed information. The e-mail message also provided information on where to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.

Almost 14 percent of those who got the e-mail deleted references to sexual behavior.

Source: Washington Post
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/05/AR2009010502588.html