15 June 2008

Online safety as we know it: Becoming obsolete?

(NetFamily News)
The headline may seem a bit inflammatory, but it's a sincere suggestion coming from 10+ years of observing and participating in the online-safety field. What we all know about online youth now from a substantial and growing body of research suggests it's time to reassess. Young people make little distinction between online and offline and move constantly and fluidly between the two. The Internet has increasingly become a mirror of "real life". It's the young people at risk offline who are most at risk online, so expertise in adolescent at-risk behavior is necessary to the discussion. Where people with experience in online safety can help is by educating the public that online safety and well-being is not separate from "real life" and needs the same accountability; educating the public about how the Internet affects real-world actions or comments; serving as information clearing-houses and connectors to the right kind of expertise for predation, bullying, eating disorders, substance abuse, etc.