The Internet Is Not Especially Dangerous For Kids -- Which, Tragically, Isn't Newsworthy To Some

from the should-be-common-sense dept

It's repeated so often that it has almost become a cliché: the Internet is a dangerous place for children. We're regularly treated to alarmist stories about the growing problem of child predators on the Internet. But David Pogue has a great post putting the danger in perspective -- fitting well with recent studies showing the danger is overstated. He says he was asked to write a story on the subject, and when he submitted a story arguing that the dangers were over-hyped, his editor pressured him to track down some examples of Internet-based violence. Pogue says that he "could not find a single example of a preteen getting abducted and murdered by an Internet predator."

The examples he was able to find were almost comically tame. One mother, for example, leapt to unplug the computer to prevent her child from seeing a pornographic image. While I'm not in favor of showing porn to children, it seems unlikely that seeing a naked women will cause a child permanent damage. Pogue points out a PBS documentary with some striking facts. For example, "the data shows that giving out personal information over the Internet makes absolutely no difference when it comes to a child’s vulnerability to predation." And "all the kids we met, without exception, told us the same thing: They would never dream of meeting someone in person they'd met online," -- again just as studies have shown. The real problem here isn't that the Internet is especially dangerous, but that some parents are absurdly over-protective. The Internet, like every other aspect of life, has some risks. But those risks are, if anything, less serious than the risks children encounter in the real world. If kids use their common sense, they'll be perfectly safe. Unfortunately, that's not the message we tend to get from the media.
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Filed Under: david pogue, kids, online dangers


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  1. identicon
    Thom, 4 Mar 2008 @ 11:51am

    Re: Re:ummm (and more)

    >How many in this group of young people were abducted and/or killed?

    Please go back and read the first line of my post, then read the rest and recontemplate my point. It's obvious, yet it's also obvious that it escaped you.

    I will add that one of my nephews has met and got into altercations with several practically unknown (to him) teen boys who've made it onto his girlfriend's myspace friends list. His idiocy and jealocy are to blame of course and this just mirrors, though adds to, the confrontations he gets into otherwise.

    Also, I'll note that the PBS documentary quote is at best very misleading and at worst undeniably false. There are weekly reports of teens meeting and running off with strangers/pervs/predators in other states. Many, if not most, of these include histories of calls to the homes and monies being sent for gifts and to support travel. Tell me how much of that would be accomplished without personal details being revealed. Obviously, in those cases where a teen crosses paths with a predator, giving out personal details absolutely and undeniably makes the child more vulnerable.

    Still, I note that such threats are small and rare compared to those that teens face daily from friends, family, and community. That doesn't make them unimportant though because they're threats that come in addition to normal threats and not necessarily intead of them. Parents need to educate and supervise their children...

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