Don't Bother Teaching Kids About Internet Safety, Just Sign Up For AOL
from the moral-hazard-much? dept
As AOL has seen their core ISP business deteriorate, one of the ways they’ve tried differentiating themselves is by offering kid-safe web surfing to worried parents. Though such service could never be a substitute for the booming business they once had, it’s not intrinsically a bad service, as parents should take responsibility to monitor their kids’ safety. The problem is that, like most products aimed at child safety, the marketing plays upon parents’ fear and paranoia. In Canada, the company has put out a poll claiming that parents aren’t policing the internet on their own; it even suggests that parents can’t police the internet, with half of the respondents reportedly claiming that it’s harder to talk about internet safety than it is to talk about sex. The survey comes in the wake of a triple-murder case in which the attackers (a 12-year-old girl and her 23-year-old boyfriend) allegedly met at a website called vampirefreaks.com. At the risk of stating the obvious, it sounds like there’s a deeper problem here than a lack of good internet filtering software. Even if this particular girl’s parents had signed up for AOL for Kids, that wouldn’t have solved the underlying problem. Any company selling a safe internet experience needs to offer parents real safety tools that don’t turn the internet into an antiseptic place that no 12-year-old will find cool. Simply selling fear with transparent surveys probably won’t do the trick.