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One More Bad Thing That's Good For Them
People are afraid of all the wrong things, as Barry Glassner pointed out in Culture Of Fear. MySpace wasn't around when he wrote that book, but it seems parental fears that every kid is trading e-mails with some Internet predator are unfounded. From TechDirt:

Many of the stories discussing social networking sites and sexual predators paint the sites in a negative light, portraying teenagers as doe-eyed automatons without a whit of common sense. A new study shows that teenagers are actually pretty wise about what kind of information they're sharing online. The study shows that the vast majority of teenagers don't show their full name, and 40% keep their profiles private unless you're on their friends list. Of the remaining public profiles, just 1% offered an e-mail address. What's more, researchers found that kids gain confidence as well as valuable writing, networking and HTML skills while using the sites. As it stands, it's not clear if the warnings and scary reports are to thank for careful kids, or whether they were being careful all along, and nobody bothered to study them. Many parents have been eager to focus on the negative aspects of social networking sites -- even going so far as to blame MySpace for sexual predators. In the end of course it comes down to quality parenting -- informed kids not only reduce their risk of problems online regardless of the technology used, they know what to do when problems do occur. While there are kids who still stick forks in electrical sockets, we don't blame the electrical sockets -- we ask why the parents weren't paying attention to what their kids were doing.

Links within the paragraph above are live if you go to the original, here.

Posted by aalkon at January 7, 2007 8:12 AM

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I have a 14 year-old stepdaughter that's not quite as online-wise as we'd like, but she does practice at least some common-sense regarding personal information. Of course, she also knows that we monitor online useage (we don't read everything, just scan through to check for specific things, so she at least has the illusion of privacy online), so there have been a few times we've had to "step in".

This is the high-tech version of how my parents did "online monitoring" back in the Commodore 64/BBS days...they put the computer in the dining room that most ground-floor rooms connected to, with the monitor facing the room. My parents weren't watching every word, but knowing that they could look over my shoulder at any time caused me to at least monitor my own use and not do something too terribly stupid.

Posted by: Jamie at January 8, 2007 10:17 AM

The Commodore 64 days...oh yeah, back when parents were parents. Congratulations on being a throwback. If only there were more like you.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at January 8, 2007 11:17 AM

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