Stealing a title for a certain comedian's performance, I wish this would be the last time but I know it won't.
If you asked anyone who's ever presented at a conference about web 2.0, Read/Write Web or whatever you want to call it, they will tell that the most common type of question or comment from teachers goes something like this:
"Yah, but what about posting kids pictures online? Aren't you concerned about their safety?"
This question can often bring an important conversation about learning to a grinding halt. As tired as I am of addressing this issue, I realize it will continue to be an issue until we hammer the research and facts at people at a relentless pace. Well that's one way to handle it anyway. I also realize I work in a school district that has a very enlightened view of this thanks to the work of many teachers who have been doing cool and important things with kids for a while now, but I'm still frustrated with the lack of knowledge folks have about this issue and the influence of traditional media that fosters the endless and needless hysteria. This is a ridiculous barrier to great learning and opportunity.
Today, Miguel found another piece of research that debunks the myth of online predators once again.
Here are a couple of key selections from this research:
- 99% of victims of Internet-initiated sex crimes were 13 to 17 years old…none were younger than 12 *why include this point?
- Posting personal information online does not, by itself, appear to be a particularly risky behavior.
- Social networking sites such as MySpace do not appear to have increased the risk of victimization by online molesters.
- Patterns of risky online behavior make youths vulnerable. (risky behaviour defined as making contact with strangers and engaging in sexual talk)
- There is no empirical evidence that posting personal information, by itself and independent of engagement in a pattern of online risky behavior, puts youths at risk for sexual victimization. Further, millions of youths use social networking sites safely, and we have not found evidence that these sites are more risky than other online venues popular with youths. Rather than focusing on types of online sites or noninteractive pursuits such as posting information, prevention messages should focus on online interactions because Internet-initiated sex crimes come about through direct communications between offenders and victims. This includes educating youths about the specific kinds of Internet interactions that are most associated with victimization, such as talking online about sex to unknown people. At the same time, judicious online contact with unknown people is not harmful or dangerous (Wolak, Mitchell, & Finkelhor, 2002; Wolak et al., in press).
I"m still waiting for some evidence to refute this position. So I'm telling you for the last time, until Tuesday when I present again.