Home > accountability, child safety, learning, moderation, online community, Parents, social networking > "If our American way of life fails the child,”

"If our American way of life fails the child,”

“…it fails us all.” -Pearl S. Buck

Strange quote for such a topic, but stay with me a second…

The Washington Post reports that a Texas judge dismissed a $30 million case against MySpace for their role in a child assault case. 19-year old Peter Solis lied about his age on MySpace to gain the confidence the confidence of a 13-year old girl. The judge ruled, ‘To impose a duty under these circumstances for MySpace to confirm or determine the age of each applicant, with liability resulting from negligence in performing or not performing duty, would of course stop MySpace’s business in its tracks and close this avenue of communication.'”

Slashdot: News for nerds, stuff that matters

So, perhaps I should explain the choice of quote a little further, hmm?

As a community manager, I deal with user interactivity with the pre-13 set every day. It is my job to protect them as best I can from my remote location. I am the head of a set of moderators, and I am controling the tone/vibe/safety of the site. I do my best to predict errors and missteps possibly taken in the future. I cannot, however, be a lie detector.

Now wait– I can predict that kids will lie. But I cannot assume that everyone will lie. Majority rules.

Our team sets up as many hurdles for kids as we faithfully can (faithfully because we cannot alientate our community with overwhelming difficulties). If they choose to lie, I can respond to it in the aftermath. I can survey & eagle eye. But I cannot accuse without proof.

The American way of life is to educate children and help them lead the best, most successful life possible for them. In my opinion, that includes family-based education. If a kid lies, perhaps there is a little more education needed at home. Especially, ESPECIALLY when it’s an 18-year-old lying to get in contact with a 13-year-old!

So even though it would be easy to paint Myspace as the bad guy (that’s a mighty big bandwagon), I can’t. Lying Liars have to ruin it for everyone else! At least this time it’s the liar that gets the full brunt of the blame.

  1. February 17, 2007 at 12:46 pm

    I’m glad that people like you have taken on “community managing” seriously. I guess what puzzles me some is the relationship between age education and lying. I know all to many older, well educated liars than I care to mention. My point relates to comment regarding kids lying having something to do with what they should have learned at home. Maybe I making more of this than I should – maybe not.

    Thanks for the insight.

  2. February 20, 2007 at 12:05 am

    I think you’ve a great point, Oldude59, as well as a great name.

    People are always going to lie. I don’t we can stop that. I lied about soup yesterday to spare feelings. I mean, it’s the simplest tool to get what we want and to make things seem “better”

    My problem is the severety of lying. I read a post recently about a parent who seemed flustered with her 16 year old child. He was online looking at inappropriate things. She caught him. She took the computer out of his room and put it in the living room. The problem continued. She monitered him, put up filters (which he worked around with his youthful cleverness), and tried every security thing she could think of. Nothing worked and the kid kept at it– if not at home, at school or at a friends. She would log on to msn hotmail, and he would log off. She did everything short of TALKING to him. She never sat him down and worked through the reasons WHY he was lying to her about his usage, and sneaking around.

    It’s the secrecy of lying that gets really dangerous. It’s when liars use their lying maliciously. Where did they learn that? Why would an eighteen-year-old feel the need to talk to a 13 year old? It’s just wrong! Do they know it’s wrong? Do they have something in their past that leads them to do that? Has the parent ever addressed the consequences of choosing actions that bring them so close to the fire?

    I can’t pretend to know the in’s and outs of adults & lying. And I don’t have a degree in psychology that helps me explain the medical reasons for such things. All i know is– from experience, kids lie to see what they can get away with. If that behavior is not nipped in the butt with clear, concise reasons, then why shouldn’t it continue?

    I just feel for parents who don’t know the web. Whether or not their kid is well-behaved online is one thing, but watching your child step confidently into the webbed-world, where they are considered adults and in control of their behavior and choices– that’s got to be tough. Scary even. How do you save or protect your kid in a world you don’t have one clue about?

    …craziness, ya know? What do you think, Oldude?

  3. February 20, 2007 at 6:26 pm

    Thanks for your reply. If you are interested I’ve read a couple of books that’ll give you a broader view on the nature and practice of lying – Sissela Bok’s “Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private life”; Evelin Sullivan’s “The Concise Book of Lying” and on the other side of things there’s Kevin Johnson’s “Wise Up”. What I think you will find is that your sense of what’s good and honorable is just find and that you need not be an expert to do and say what needs being said.


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