So I just read yet another article about how to protect your child from all the perverts sliming around on social media, like MySpace and Facebook.
I’m all for protecting kids from crime and creeps, but the advice had it wrong. Both the Crimes Against Children Research Center and Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society studied what happens to kids on line. Both concluded that when kids are posting photos and chatting with each other and even giving out personal info — the big “no no” everyone warns about — they are not eaknetdbzh
putting themselves at risk!
As David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center said: Predators are no more likely to go through page after page of Facebook than they are to open the phone book to try to find a date. It is, he said, a “low-yield” proposition and they know it.
So where DO they go? To chat rooms devoted to sex. The “red light” district of the Internet. And generally the young people they meet there, eager to chat with strangers about sex, are the same ones hanging out in kind of sketchy places with sketchy people in the real world. And generally these young folk have been through some tough times already (abuse, neglect) and are looking for love in all the wrong places.
Here’s an article from Mommymythbuster talking about the Harvard study on Internet predators. And here’s a great New York Times article where the author, David Pogue, set out to write about all the horrors kids face on line…then realized that’s not what’s happening:
Sure, there are dangers. But they’re hugely overhyped by the media. The tales of pedophiles luring children out of their homes are like plane crashes: they happen extremely rarely, but when they do, they make headlines everywhere. The Internet is just another facet of socialization for the new generation; as always, common sense and a level head are the best safeguards.
Love that guy. Anyway, upon reading all this info AND seeing a scary public service ad warning parents of perverts ever ready to pounce on the Internet, some funny folks at Columbia Teachers College decided to make a video putting the danger into perspective. Predators and puppetry? Perfect together. Click to watch! (If I could figure out how to embed the video right here, I would. But I just spent half an hour trying and have no clue. Sorry!) — Lenore