February 28, 2008

NYT How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children?

David Pogue's column this week focuses on Internet threats to children. As usual he has a very realistic view. He also recommends an hour long PBS piece available on their web site. Like Pogue I think the best defense against almost all the Internet's threats is simple common sense and a healthy dose of skepticism. His experience mirrors mine in another way.
"As my own children approach middle school, my own fears align with the documentary’s findings in another way: that cyber-bullying is a far more realistic threat. Kids online experiment with different personas, and can be a lot nastier in the anonymous atmosphere of the Internet than they would ever be in person (just like grown-ups). And their mockery can be far more painful when it’s public, permanent and written than if they were just muttered in passing in the hallway."
It is clear to me that the biggest threat to my expanding my social use of the Internet is bullying not identity theft or some other cyber threat. I have experienced it first hand and I know its chilling effects. I have also helped others through bullying experiences. It can be extremely damaging.


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