John D Radcliff, Specializing in Interactive Technology & Education!

Blown to Bits, Social Networking and Online Predators

    The book talks about social networking and online predators (pages 16 and 229) which brings up an interesting point.  Do we create ridiculous laws and try to enforce them in hopes of protecting children? 

    One of these laws is the Deleting Online Privacy Act (DOPA) which would require certain institutions to prevent children from using on-location computers to access chat rooms and social networking web sites without adult supervision.  Of course this Act has meet with alot of opposition and really misses the point of the whole issue.  There is no way to stop children from going to social networking sites, especially if all of their friends are going to these places.  No matter what type of filtering or monitoring device is implemented, children will find a way around it. 

    Especially since the children of today know more about computers and how to access digital information then most parents.  Even the American Library Associaton stated in an opposition statement to the DOPA act that education is needed over regulation.  Partly true except that technology, education, and regulation will not stop someone if they want something bad enough.  The best way to prevent children from becoming victims to online predators or per pressure is to concentrate on morals and values.  Simple principles like "if you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all" or "don't hang out with the wrong crowd".  Also, spending quality time and showing kids what the consequences are if they do the wrong thing is the other part to this complex issue. 
    I think people are so busy nowadays that they do not carve out enough time to see what their children are up to in life.  Instead we try to use and rely on the justice system to raise our children.  I believe there should be a mandate that everyone attends an online or in classroom simulation that would allow both parents and children the opportunity to explore the consequences of doing the wrong thing in an online community or environment.  It could be a requirement like taking a driving test before getting a drivers license.  You could have both the parents and the children take this course before they can operate a computer. 

    The person's internet service provider could have a manadate of needing proof of passing such a class before allowing a parent or child online access.  If people do not want to go to this extreme then it is simple, parents need to take the time to teach their kids values and then have their children apply these values when they are online.

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