Danger! That "In-ter-net” is after your children…

A new survey from the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, The National Poll on Children’s Health, has found that US parents rate Internet Safety as being a more serious health threat to children than school violence, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse and neglect.Yes, the Internet.
No, I’m not kidding.
The survey found that Internet safety is a relatively new health concern amongst parents. Women were more likely to rate it as a big problem; 32% of women report Internet safety as a big problem compared with only 21% of men. Internet safety had no differences in proportion of concern by education status, income level or marital status.
You may well ask what this has to do with Web 2.0. The report notes: “state and federal legislators appear to have responded to public concerns about Internet safety for children, considering new legislation and issuing consumer alerts“.
The ongoing campaign to whip up hysteria around the risks for children in social networking by some segments of the media is clearly working.

Internet More Dangerous than School Violence, Sexually Transmitted Diseases for Children: survey

Ohhhh Tizzy Tizzy Tizzy. Yes, indeed– parents need to be concerned for their children on the web… just as they should be concerned when they drop their kids off at the mall to hang with their friends. Trouble lurks in many corners. Oh, how temptation killed the cat.

Okay… so in my thoughts, the whole “Internet = danger” problem should be handled three-fold. 1. Parents should always monitor their children somehow, someway. (All I can do is worry about the latchkey kids at home with the power of the world at their unmonitored fingertips). 2. Continuing education in classrooms. Any time a teacher has the opportunity to enlighten their students about the wonders and worries of the web, that would help. Same with training in computer classes– giving all sides of the issue (instead of telling “no no no” explain to the class “why why why” and “how how how” and so on…). 3. Online media outlets that cater to youth (whether they intend to or not) should be ever vigilant (where’s Mad-Eye Moody when you need him?) about their audience/community. Ex. Disney should probably do something about the fact that Xtreme Digital, their new platform service for tweens, is uncomfortably close to extreme digital, a porn site. Make it CRYSTAL clear who can/can’t be on a site, help to guarantee it, and then ensure as best you can that your young audience has no opportunity to be led astray through links or misspellings, etc.

Consumer alerts is an interesting option. Will they be posted above highways along with orange alerts and missing people? Will they run along the bottom of television programs? I guess I’m being slyly & snarky here (sorry if you didn’t pick it up). The Internet is global and HUGE. How can a government issued web-consumer department possibly cater to all the web-tastrophes of the world? Or will it be like the gov’s travel website with warnings for the latest? <- That’s actually an interesting idea. I have no idea how it would work though. Would websites that aren’t American have to answer to America’s mighty fist of web-justice? Can America acknowledge problems, give a massive verbal heads-up to its homeland consumers, and then do nothing about fixing the problem? That doesn’t really seem to be our way (sorry, a side political comment, won’t happen again). …I dunno. Perhaps Caru will be granted militant powers… like some sort of “Black Watch” (see Scotland’s history), hunting down all the consumer web-alerts and giving them the good ole “one-two judo CHOP!” Now I’m just being silly and probably WAAAAAAAY over thinking this (which seems to be a trend this weekend -personal note). But seriously– I can’t help but find myself muddled with questions and doubts.

Who knows… maybe the fact the government is taking interest in media responsibility & youth standards online (other than the legislation they’ve passed) and offering opportunities for a one-stop-shop for paranoid parents wanting to know the “truth” is a GOOD thing?! Several of us bloggers have definitely tried to provide some sort of assistance.

More than anything… I find it interesting that parents are more concerned about something they provide (it’s not like every child is born with a computer… someone has to provide it, and someone has to pay for Internet— am I right?) over the problems kids can find themselves in– like sexual issues, violence, abuse. You don’t need accessories like a laptop & wireless to get abused. You don’t need a cell phone with Internet to get sexually transmitted diseases. You don’t need bluetooth to get beat up after school. Does that make any sense?

I’m not trivializing the problems with the Internet. Lord knows I spout on and on about it every day. I just can’t help but find it interesting that PARENTS are more fearful about the INTERNET– which they have some degree of responsibility & power over– then the trouble their children can get into on their own.

Agree? Disagree? Have a different point to make? Please don’t hesitate to make it.

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