Tuesday, January 15, 2008

we heart a safer MySpace

I can only imagine that yesterday's announcement about new safety regulations on MySpace brought a sigh of relief to millions of parents nationwide, but, as Anastasia Goodstein eloquently reports in the Huffington Post, there are problems---most seriously the fact that it's not a solution that does much in the way of educating kids about the real dangers of online communities. Goodstein, author of Totally Wired: What Teens and Tweens Are Really Doing Online, advocates being proactive and educating the kids who are most at risk of giving into the kind of attention that sexual predators resort to.

But still, it's a start. And MySpace isn't the only social-networking site teens turn to. And it's not just sexual predators who are causing a commotion online. Let's not forget the case of Megan Meier, who committed suicide after a neighborhood parent, posing as a teen boy, showered her with compliments and then turned on her and made her feel like shit, all in some whacked-out revenge scheme she worked out because Megan had called her daughter, of all things, a "lesbian."

Point being, it's all scary. And the world is changing way faster than parents can keep up with. Most kids are way ahead of the curve as their parents try---or don't even know how---to play catch-up. There should be Internet Safety 101 starting in elementary school. That's what I'd advocate for. But here in California we have a governor whose solution to the state budget crisis is to cut funding for schools, so go figure. So while this particular solution is another drop in that black hole where good ideas go to be ignored or forgotten, three cheers to the awareness for greater Internet safety.


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