Thursday, February 21, 2008

Predators and Social Networking

Andy Carvin, over at the Learning Now (PBS Teachers) blog recently posted about the American Psychological Association (APA)'s new study “Online ‘Predators’ and Their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for Prevention.” You can check out the whole thing written in perfect research-ese or read Andy's blog which explains that the media has basically exploited the few occurrences of children being confronted by predators on social networking sites. Just as the media has done with many other unrelated topics, they have taken a tiny percentage of events and made them out to seem the norm. Andy highlights this passage:

"Further, an online survey of a representative sample of over 1,500 Internet users conducted in 2006 found that youths were more likely to receive online sexual solicitations via instant messages or in chatrooms than through social networking sites....Most Internet-initiated sex crimes involve adult men who are open about their interest in sex,” Wolak adds. “The offenders use instant messages, e-mail and chat rooms to meet and develop intimate relationships with their victims. In most of the cases, the victims are aware that they are talking online with adults."

In recent parent presentations I have given, I try to explain that the real dangers to their children are bullying and lack of compassion rather than the rare instance of being approached by a predator.

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