The hype around safety and privacy on the internet is certainly a battle I, along with many others have been fighting for long while. Shows like Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator” seem to give lead folks to the conclusion that:
Internet/Social Networking = BAD
No one, and I mean no one has been able to link the posting of an image on the internet leading to the type of danger associated with these predators. This discussion that took place for the Congressional Internet Caucus in Washington last month helps shed some light on the real dangers of online activity:
Our research, actually looking at what puts kids at risk for receiving the most serious kinds of sexual solicitation online, suggests that it’s not giving out personal information that puts kid at risk. It’s not having a blog or a personal website that does that either. What puts kids in danger is being willing to talk about sex online with strangers or having a pattern of multiple risky activities on the web like going to sex sites and chat rooms, meeting lots of people there, kind of behaving in what we call like an internet daredevil.
Those are the facts. Let me repeat, IT IS NOT GIVING OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION OR BLOGGING THAT PUTS KIDS AT RISK. How about a sign like that in your schools? No, I’m not advocating being careless or divulging private information unnecessarily or carelessly but want to be clear that the research bears this out. If you’ve got research to diffuse this, let me know.