Online Predators — How Many?

When I hear folks discussing how dangerous social networks and the Internet are I find myself asking these types of questions: How many predators are actually out there? How dangerous is it to be online? Sure there are dangers and I don’t want to discount them, but in the story, PRIME NUMBER from NPR’s On The Media, there appears to be some exaggeration of the numbers on online predators — or at least an unsubstantiated number. Check out the part about the number 50,000 and how it appears in many statistics that are unsubstantiated. Interesting…

Do we need to teach our kids to be safe online? Yes.

Do we need to teach are kids to be safe in the really world? Yes.

Part of education is to talk to our kids about making good judgments. Explain to them why it is important not to talk to strangers if we don’t know who they are. Role play with them. But creating fear that is unsubstantiated is not the way educating kids.

Thanks, On the Media, for another great story.

One thought on “Online Predators — How Many?

  1. Great observation, Alex!

    Yes, the sick people who chase children are sneaky and hard to identify. Yes, I want to protect my kids from them. I investigated the online predators for a couple of years and can tell you they are very bold. But my 13 and 15 year old boys aren’t likely to be trapped by them.

    I was talking to a friend (another teenager parent) the other day about MySpace, and he’s facing a group of youth parents at his church whose opinions range from block it all (think digital chastity belt) to trust them, they’ll do fine (think free love in the 60s). My alternative was, “if you can’t beat them, join them.”

    I realize that as much as my kids are likely to do what I tell them, if they want a MySpace (or any other digital social networking webpresence), they’ll have one. Well, I have one, too! there’s not a lot posted there, but it gives me a world’s eye view of what my kids are posting (and they seem to periodically forget that). I can tell when they post a phone number or use unauthorized language . . . and they think I am cool :-).

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