8/9/07

What a Shock: The Internet Isn't Dangerous After All

I just have to let out a little smile when it turns out that over-hyped horror stories about new technologies or practices are smashed to pieces by good, old-fashioned statistical analysis. According to Tech.Blorge.com
The internet isn't as dangerous as people think, and teachers should let students use social networks at school.

That's the surprising new recommendation from the National School Boards Association — a not-for-profit organization representing 95,000 school board members — in a new study funded by Microsoft, News Corporation, and Verizon.

It warns that many fears about the internet are just overblown. "School district leaders seem to believe that negative experiences with social networking are more common than students and parents report," the study reports. For example, more than half the districts think sharing personal information has been "a significant problem" in their schools — "yet only 3% of students say they've ever given out their email addresses, instant messaging screen names or other personal information to strangers."
Now, of course, we knew this all along. We, being the savvy and careful internet consumers that we are, have been cautious when an IM window pops up and annoys us with some random free offer or when some hot and sexy picture ends up in our MySpace messages saying "Wanna meet?" But what about the children?! Because we all know that those between the ages of 10-25 are criminally stupid. They may just take the bait, right?
Only 4% of the students said they'd ever had an online conversation that made them uncomfortable, and only 2% said an online stranger tried to meet them in person. In fact, after surveying 1,277 students, the researchers found exactly one who reported they'd actually met a person from the internet without their parents' permission — and described this as "0.08 percent of all students."
Guess not. :-)

Guess what. The Internet is not an electrically charged box of scum. Nor is it a truck. It is a social forum just like any other. And people behave the same way on there as they would anywhere else. If little Johnny doesn't talk to strangers in real life, he's not going to talk to them on the Internet.


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