Teens Want To Interact With Their Friends, Not Strangers, Online

from the who-are-you? dept

It's become quite clear that the threat to children from sexual predators on the internet has been massively overhyped by the media looking for a juicy story and for politicians looking to take advantage of it. Studies have shown that the number of sexual offenses against kids has dropped while internet use has grown, and fewer kids are actually being targeted by predators. What's always been interesting throughout this long-running moral panic is that kids have been shown to actually be pretty savvy in dealing with strangers online, and that perhaps politicians give them far less credit than they deserve in these areas. As we've noted, teaching kids how to deal with dangers they might face online -- just as with dangers they might face in real life -- is a much better way to keep them safe than by searching for some legal or technological magic bullet to eradicate sex offenders and protect the children. Now, another study has emerged saying that kids talk to their friends, and not strangers, online. Kids' primary use of social networking sites isn't to try and meet new people, let alone strangers, but rather to keep up with their real-life friends. The stories of kids being lured in by online predators grab lots of attention, and such incidents are undoubtedly despicable, but it's important to also remember that they are relatively rare.


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  1.  
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    Weird Harold, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 7:48pm

    A subset of the adolescents — 126 — also answered online surveys. Of these, only 5% said they had friends known only from the Internet.

    Quick math: 40 million kids 10 - 19 in the US Chop off on average the top and bottom to get 13-17 and you have 20 million in that group (averaged). So there are 1 million of them with internet only friends.

    5% seems like a small number, until you look at the numbers.

     

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  2.  
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    Derrick Hinkle, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 7:56pm

    WOAH

    Wait, that's only part of the equation. 1 million kids on the internet with internet only friends. When we look at the percentage of those who actually meet those people, and then percentage of people within there who experience any negative consequence for that, you're talking a small number.

    Yes, several thousand, but you can never completely protect people. Instead of just saying we should ban the internet to save those few thousand, lets just educate the general population of children on how to deal with online only friends.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 8:10pm

     

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  4.  
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    Weird Harold, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 8:11pm

    Re: WOAH

    It's a game of numbers. Obviously, parents need to be responsible for their children even when they are online. Sadly, most parents treat a computer the same way they treat the TV, an idiot box baby sitter.

    Being on the internet unsupervised is not different from dropping the kid off in the middle of a busy city street and telling him to have a good time.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 8:32pm

    Re:

    "friends known only from the Internet" is NOT the same as "only have friends from on the internet". I choose to point that out to you, as you seemed to have intentionally missed that point.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 8:46pm

    "Being on the internet unsupervised is not different from dropping the kid off in the middle of a busy city street and telling him to have a good time."

    Wow - what a stupid statement.

     

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  7.  
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    Fsm, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 8:53pm

    Re: Re:

    Exactly what I thought. The question doesn't distinguish between one internet only friend and only internet only friends, so it's hardly appropriate to use it as a measure of kids with no real-life friends.

    Silly harold.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re: WOAH

    I think you should be supervised while on the internet. And again you make my stomach ache

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 9:33pm

    Quick math: 40 million kids 10 - 19 in the US Chop off on average the top and bottom to get 13-17 and you have 20 million in that group (averaged). So there are 1 million of them with internet only friends.

    5% seems like a small number, until you look at the numbers.


    And since we know 100% of 13-17 year old kids in the US use the Internet your numbers are dead on!!

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 7th, 2009 @ 9:36pm

    Re: Re: WOAH

    no way. the internet is a completely different environment. try going to the middle of a busy street and deleting a real person from your little circle of existence, see how much luck you have. In reality, kids have much more scope for protecting themselves while alone online than they would if they were alone in the real world.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 1:24am

    Re:

    u did not define what online friends are.

    i bet that 4 of the 5 % you mentioned play games such as WOW and there online only friends they meet through the game and nothing else.

     

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  12.  
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    kirillian (profile), Apr 8th, 2009 @ 8:04am

    This is gonna hurt...

    I actually have to admit that Weird Harold makes a somewhat valid point. HOWEVER, I can't agree with his conclusions.
    A subset of the adolescents — 126 — also answered online surveys. Of these, only 5% said they had friends known only from the Internet. Quick math: 40 million kids 10 - 19 in the US Chop off on average the top and bottom to get 13-17 and you have 20 million in that group (averaged). So there are 1 million of them with internet only friends. 5% seems like a small number, until you look at the numbers.
    1,000,000 kids...ok...assuming that EVERY kid between 13-17 uses the internet, then those 1 million kids have at least 1 friend who they've only met on the internet. Ok, so, I guess I would have had to be included since I've made at least one friend online in every game that I've tried online that had a multiplayer aspect to it (I tried out a number of games back at that age). Personally, I didn't have a negative experience in any way. As far as I know, neither have any of my friends (we're talking real life ones at this point). However, we're talking about now...obviously all 1,000,000 of THEM have had negative experiences... Hardly...there may be a number of them, but certainly, we're talking outside the scope of what legislation can do. Besides, Weird Harold, you made the most relevant comment in your next post:
    Sadly, most parents treat a computer the same way they treat the TV, an idiot box baby sitter. Being on the internet unsupervised is not different from dropping the kid off in the middle of a busy city street and telling him to have a good time.
    I don't know if I'd take the internet thing to that extreme, but my sentiment is the same...the internet is more like the busy street that ran in front of my house when I was a kid...it was a useful tool...and, possibly, a great playground for a kid - if you could watch what you were doing and be careful for cars...teaching safety to me was the responsibility of my parents...not the government, not anyone else. My parents couldn't watch me all the time...they gave me the tools I needed, watched me as much as they could, but, ultimately, let me go... If you can't let go, how the heck is the kid supposed to learn?

     

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  13.  
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    TheStuipdOne, Apr 8th, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Re:

    I've made internet only friends. I've played online games and there are some interesting people all over the world that I've talked to.

    Weird Harold, will you be my friend?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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