Concerns Over Kids' Safety Online is Overblown…

According to this study sponsored by Microsoft.

While the sponsor of the study might reveal a possible bias, I do tend to agree that stories of the internet’s dangers are often exaggerated because of adults’ own fears of new technology.

Whether fears are overblown or not I think we need to be educating students and adults about real dangers of the net and not teaching students to avoid the internet altogether.

How about a few safety rules:

1. Do not reveal personal information to strangers.

2. Know how to search smarter to avoid inappropriate material.

3. Respect yourself and others.

4. Do not meet people you talk to online (until you’re at least 18 and meet in a public place with your friends hiding inconspicuously in the corner of the Starbucks).

Care to add anything to this list?

And here’s a video about thinking before you post:

3 Responses to Concerns Over Kids' Safety Online is Overblown…

  1. A lot of people feel the issue is overblown. You could look at it from one point of view and agree. There aren’t THAT many deaths and tragedies that occur. Those that do are the vast minority… or at least the ones we know of.

    But do you really trust teenagers to tell you everything? Maybe out of let’s say 100 teens talking to someone they don’t realize is a predator, maybe 10 will tell a parent… and maybe only 1 goes missing… the other 89 never do anything about it, including saying anything or trying to “meet in real life”.

    BUT IT’S STILL A PROBLEM… as long as there is 1, it can’t be overlooked. That then ends up being the deadly “well, it can’t happen to me” frame of mind… which you don’t want to be in.

    To parents, I offer this rule… install monitoring software. Educate yourselves and trust your kids, but watch what they do. Years ago parents didn’t have the ability to watch what their teens were doing… but that was also when teens would just hang around town. Now, with the Internet, they can hang around the world. BUT you can be there to watch.

    I recommend PC Pandora. It’s a great program, and yes, I work for them. But nonetheless, it is a valuable tool. You can google for other types of monitoring software and pick the one that works for you… but whichever you chose, remember: it’s a tool – not a final solution. You still need to be a parent, and you still need to respect privacy.

    Thanks for letting me post!

  2. Thank you Ken for you thoughtful comments. I do think 1 in 100 is overstating it and while there is always some danger in meeting strangers the point is that the danger online is far less than in person.

    Not many are advocating installing backpack cams or things of that nature to monitor students walking to and from school where the chances of them being harmed are probably worse than being on Myspace.

    While you might not expect your teen to tell you everything, I would expect parents to have an open dialogue about dangers and clear boundaries set from the time a child is old enough to play a game on the computer.

  3. I see what you are saying…

    First… ok, maybe 1 in 10 is overstating. But a study did come out (I just read it and can’t remember where) that says only about 25% of those contacted with inappropriate messages tell their parents (or an adult). That’s not to say the others act upon it, but we have a long way to go in total communication…

    However – I DO agree with you 100% that parents and their kids simply TALKING would cure a LOT of problems (not just Internet related). Open communication, rules established early and even a weaning on the Internet is a good way to go.

    I live in New York City and would trust my kid walking the streets of our neighborhood late at night more than I trust the idiots on MySpace and FaceBook that kid would interact with. Maybe it’s because I can see who is on my street…
    :)

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