Chat Room Death

from the internet-backlash? dept

There is nothing you can do but express horror at the news that a 13-year-old girl was murdered last week after having sex with a man she met over the internet. However, I’m a little bit scared about the internet backlash we’re going to see from this. Already there are stories about how it’s fairly common for teenagers to meet up with random strangers that they first met online. While that may be true, stories that focus on the online aspect of this start to paint this image of the internet as this wild, dangerous place that kids should be kept away from. I think if we, instead, focus on teaching kids to have a better sense of “internet smarts” in knowing not to give out information online, and not to meet with strangers, we’d go a lot further in preventing these sorts of things. That has to be a better solution then if we just start blaming the technology.

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Comments on “Chat Room Death”

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mgallagher says:

Well said

I think Mike’s on the right track in thinking that the Internet is a “place” like any other and there are some good common sense rules you should follow to keep yourself out of trouble.

My question is: What are the rules? Simply telling kids not to do anything stupid (or I guess “stoopid”, for the on-line types) isn’t going to get the job done. Specifically, what’s OK? Telling people you’re a school student? Your hair color? Real gender? The state you live in but not the city?

I think horrible things like this will continue to happen until: 1) we get a good idea of what sorts of information are most likely to enable “predation”; 2) we figure out how to communicate this to parents; and 3) we figure out how get parents to communicate it to thier kids.

I’m not dense enough to think this will eliminate the problem entirely. Long obviously had a whole series of issues to deal with and she actively pursued the encounter. I don’t think anything her aunt could have said would have stopped her. But there must be at least some sort of “don’t get into a car with a stranger” type of rules we could give kids to follow.

Chris (user link) says:

No Subject Given

When we were kids – the boogieman was a stranger in a car, now its a stranger in an AOL chatroom. It’s still the same problem, and a 13 year old is old enough to know better in either case. Some huge percentage of child abductions are done by somebody the child knows – often a relative in a custody battle. However, the stories that make the news are always chat room related.

Cory says:

Common Sense

I agree with Chris in the fact that when I was young and was told about Adam Walsh’s son and to be weary of strangers in cars and such – I stayed away from strangers in cars. It seemed very real and scarey.
Problem is with the internet they are sitting at home in comfort and that real sense of fear isnt present.
And while I think its a good idea to apply voluntary safeguards on the internet for parents and more information, its ultimately up to the parent to protect the child.

rhanson says:

Not just kids

It’s not just our kids who need to learn these things — there are millions of adults who readily give out personal information on the every day, because they think they are dealing with trustworthy sources. I have seen people, even fairly tech-savvy colleagues, who reveal names, addresses, phone numbers, SSN, etc. to basically anyone who asks.

Today’s tech world requires that we redefine what’s acceptable to reveal to others, no matter what the medium — phone, internet or live person. Not very many people even think about what they disclose, and until we change that, it’s going to be difficult for our kids to understand.

Two examples: (1) remember when Dollar Rent a Car tried requiring fingerprints to rent a car (they now claim they were just test-marketing)? We heard stories about the people who refused, but how many people actually complied without thinking twice?! That’s the danger. (2) I recently switched cellular carriers, and they wanted to know my SSN, drivers license number, my employer and a bunch more. I asked why, since I signed up to have the bill charged directly to my credit card. I was told that they conduct credit checks, and that they needed the information for “security purposes”. I told them to take a hike. They gave me the service anyway, without providing all that private info. But as the rep put my papers in his flimsy file, I noticed dozens of other applications, with everything filled out. Some thief could easily snag that folder, and next thing you know, we have 30 new cases of stolen identity or fraudulent charges.

Dawnrazor says:

No Subject Given

The REAL horror in this is that a 13 year old was meeting and having sex with strangers. It doesn’t matter how or where she was meeting them.

The blame belongs to the parents who obviously were excersising zero supervision or control over this girl.

This of course will be overlooked because the internet angle makes for better headlines and allows self serving politicians to make lots of noise and push for more goverment controls on the internet

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