Dean Shareski shared this article with everyone in our division just last week. In light of our discussion last night about Media Awareness, I thought I’d share it…

“How Dangerous is the Internet for  Children?”

Essentially, the author David Pogue points out that despite what is portrayed on the media, there is really very little threat to most kids who are online. I must admit, as a fan of the Law & Order t.v. shows, I figured online predators must be a dime a dozen…but apparently not!! Imagine, television not reflecting reality…:)

I’m totally of the camp that we need to teach our kids how to use the tool…rather than simply ban them from it. I chuckled when I thought about the mother who dove across the room trying to stop her child from seeing pornography, as opposed to Pogue’s reaction. Cripes, most of our prime time television is inappropriate for kids – but you don’t see people banning Grey’s Anatomy and Nip/Tuck, do you?

I was reminded me of a discussion I had with a tour guide while I in Amsterdam a few years ago. Obviously renowned for it’s liberal practices with sex, drugs, and alcohol, I asked him what impact such freedoms had on adolescents?

I expected, that given that amount of freedom, alcoholism, teen pregnancy and drug addiction could be pandemic for them, so was shocked when he indicated quite the opposite.

Really, though, it makes sense. The more taboo a topic/issue is, the more adolescents want to engage with it. In Amsterdam – nothing is taboo – so these things we often make a big deal of is just not really an issue for them.

While I’m not advocating teenagers engaging in any of these behaviours, at the same time, I think it’s foolish to bury one’s head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening. So just as we educate teens about the dangers of drinking, drugs, and unprotected sex – we better do the same about internet safety. Seems pretty simple to me.