internet safety and teens

It’s been forever since I posted. Life has been rearranging my priorities and focus over the past couple of months. As soon as things settle down, I plan on getting back into a regular rythym of posting.

Now that my obnoxious excuses are out of the way…

I came across an article at cnet.com about a study that Crimes Against Children Research Center (CCRC) recently completed.

The news regarding onine predators is mostly good. Arrests have increased only modestly from 2000 to 2006 in spite of the tremendous increase in youth using the internet during that time.

I don’t want to minimize the dangers online in anyway. But often, the impression the “media” gives parents is that there are countless predators waiting to sift through their child’s personal information left on a myspace page or blog so they can piece together the location and identity of the minor. The internet is made out to be a deadly place where danger lurks at every corner.

From the CRCC’s website,

“There was no evidence that online predators were stalking or abducting
unsuspecting victims based on information they posted at social
networking sites.”

And further,

“The nature of crimes in which online predators used the Internet to
meet and victimize youth changed little between 2000 and 2006, despite
the advent of social networking sites. Victims were adolescents, not
younger children. Most offenders were open about their sexual motives
in their online communications with youth. Few crimes (5 percent)
involved violence.”

The idea of predators lurking around for unsuspecting victims isn’t nearly as prevalent as the perception many have. These adults (according to this study) are open about their intents and look for students who will respond to these advances. It’s my opinion that most students will be aware of these encounters and respond appropriately to them.

Though this is “good” news. It doesn’t take away from the fact that parent’s need to excersise wisdom and caution regarding their student’s use of the internet. We can’t assume that teens will just know what they should and shouldn’t post online. We can’t assume that they can be trusted with computers in their rooms, behind closed doors. And we can’t be afraid to dialogue with our kids about these issues, even if we don’t fully understand the technology involved.

Keep lines of communication open (this means listening, too!). Express your concerns. Set up clear guidelines and expectations.

Author: Erik

Erik lives in Bethalto, IL were he serves as the Executive Pastor at Cornerstone Church. He and his wife, Bethany, have two boys (Parker and Kent). He's an Apple fan and all around techie who loves Angry Birds and Words With Friends.

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