Monday, March 26, 2007

Debunking Myths about Social Networking

There's a lot of interesting discussion going on about banning youth access to sites that collect profile information, like myspace. The proponents believe it will protect young people from predators.

Adam Thierer at the Technology Liberation Front offers a different perspective.
TLF: Debunking Myths about Social Networking:
"Not only is it a myth that there is a growing epidemic of Internet-facilitated child abductions, but it is also a myth that all children are equally susceptible to falling prey to online predators. In reality, the population of “at-risk” youngsters who are most likely to become the victim of online predators is very small.

Why do such youth consent to meet with older strangers and even engage in shocking and disturbing acts with them? , Unsurprisingly, research reveals that this small population of youngsters came from broken homes. They did not have a good relationship with their parents. In many cases, the victims reported a high degree of conflict with their parents or very little parental interaction and mentoring. In some cases, parents were absent from the home altogether. Loneliness and depression were also prevalent traits in many of the youngsters. And some of the boys who became willing victims were “gay or questioning” about their sexuality and were scared to talk to the parents or educators about it.

Those children are at-risk youth who need help. What they most need is love and understanding. When they cannot get them because of parental estrangement or incompetence, it is not surprising that some will look elsewhere for acceptance."

Following Adam's line of thinking, supporting those of us who offer programs for at-risk youth would be a more effective way of preventing abuse than legislating bans. I agree.

What do you think?

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