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
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Mar 2008 @ 9:44am

    Yeah, this was hard, had to use Google. maybe not preteens, but to say there isn't danger out there is just stupid.

    A man who admitted abducting and indecently assaulting a teenage girl he met through an internet chat room has been jailed for 18 months.

    Police say they believe an Albemarle County man kidnapped and raped a Connecticut girl he met on the Internet. James Gardner Dennis, 34, was arrested Feb. 20 and charged with rape, forcible sodomy, abduction and enticement of a minor through the use of communications systems. Court documents show that investigators believe Dennis met the victim on Facebook, a social networking Web site, and sent her a plane ticket to fly to Charlottesville for a supposed modeling job.

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