A police official in the UK signed up a new account with a girls name and used data and a photo that suggested he was a 14 year old girl.
Within 90 seconds, a middle-aged man wanted to perform a sex act in front of me. I was deluged by strangers asking stomach-churning questions about my sexual experience. I was pressured to meet men with whom I'd never before communicated.
If you plan to let your kids use sites like these, you have to know what they're getting into. Make sure you have the name and password to their account (being friends with them is not enough) so you can see what they see and talk to them about it. Also bone up on safety precautions like learning the proper way to secure your account.
I decided to try this out myself and created a fake account with a girly sounding name, age 16 from Texas. I entered only a high school, an age, a fake picture, and a few favorite movies, TV shows, and bands. Then I waited to see what would happen.
For over a day, nothing did. In that amount of time a retraction was posted showing that the social site used for the original experiment was not Facebook, but something else. For various reasons, they didn't mention which site, but really, does it matter. The fact that predators use these things like menus is not in question. Tell your kids to be careful and make sure you know what they're doing.