Online safety – Presenting the Facts and Debunking Myths


Thanks to Simon Grehan who responded to my previous post and pointed me to the work of the International Congressional Internet Caucus, and a project titled Just The Facts About Online Youth Victimization
Researchers Present the Facts and Debunk Myths

I’ve spent some time browsing the resources in this site, and found some fascinating papers that have been contributed by the panel members, including one by Amanda Lenhart titled Teens, privacy and online networks that concludes that “The majority of teens actively manage their online profiles to keep the information they believe is most sensitive away from the unwanted gaze of strangers, parents and other adults.”

Among the others I found of interest is a report by Ybarra titled Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later in which they summarise the level of “net savviness” among young people and the growing tide of unwanted sexual solicitations that these people are being bombarded with. The authors advocate a more aggressive prevention plan, that includes:

  1. education programs directed toward families
  2. the development of technology tools and access controls
  3. law-enforcement efforts directed against those who use the Internet for criminal purposes

This balance between education and direct intervention appears to have a lot to commend it – and there are plenty of other readings on this site that I’m interested to pursue.

Thanks to Simon for pointing this out 🙂

One thought on “Online safety – Presenting the Facts and Debunking Myths

  1. Congratulations on highlighting the issues of online safety in your blog Derek. It is interesting that you pick up on a couple of themes which seem prevalent in overseas internet safety initiatives namely a concern that youth are ‘vulnerable’ through their own naivety to a surging tide of online predators.
    In New Zealand we have always taken a more moderate approach, which is demonstrated through NetSafe’s background in education rather than law enforcement (if you look at other such agencies this tends to be where their genesis lies), and our current work developing a framework for cybersafety education designed for use by NZ teachers. Our messages to teenagers in particular are focussed around managing their digital footprints as we accepted long ago that young people are engaged online in social activities, whether certain adults approve or not. What this means for teachers and parents is that the need for long talked about ‘critical thinking skills’ is even more apparent as all people, not just children, will find increasingly necessary the need to evaluate the messages they are exposed to in online (and offline) media.
    Media reports which present frightening stories do little to enhance the confident use of technology, a confidence which can be enhanced if the users are aware of the risks that do exist, and how to manage them. In the IT security industry there is a push to have security viewed as a ‘business enabler’. At NetSafe we consider cybersafety a ‘learning enabler’.

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