Oh, how I love to make up a good word now and then.
Today Brad Stone of the New York Times wrote this article about the Internet Safety Technical Task Force's charge to study the extent of threats to childrens' safety on social networks. The task force was lead by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. This was prompted by parents' fear of child predators' use of sites like myspace and Facebook to target kids.
The report found that bullying among children, both online and offline, was a far greater threat than sexual solicitation of minors by adults online. Don't get me wrong, bullying is a terrible problem and I don't mean to diminish it here. But, I am particularly happy to hear the news about the lack of predators in online communities.
As a mom of 'a certain age' I often hear my peers voice their concerns about allowing their kids to partake in new technologies and online communities. I am not talking about young children, as with any tool or socialization, young kids need to be taught about the dangers and learn appropriate behavior. But there is a hyper-vigilance to 'protect' kids from technology. Facebookanoia.
As I see it, this is their world. For better or worse texting, Facebook, video chat, BBM; these are all the ways in which they communicate. Does it have a downside? Sure. So did the telephone when it first came out. I would bet critics proclaimed the end to true interpersonal relationships with the loss of eye contact and the art of letter writing. But that is evolution.
I find it funny that our generation, the one that has 'been their done that', can be so fearful of change. Yes, it is frightening to think about how technology has changed socialization for our kids. But look at the upside. Facebook has changed the way our kids leave for college. They can meet people online and join groups before they ever step foot on campus. Many choose a roommate and start connecting long before they drop their bags in the tiny dorm room they will share. They can keep in touch with friends, yes and even parents, far away with video chat; making the world seem smaller and their loved ones closer.
Not so bad when I put it that way, right?
I will leave you with this quote from John Cardillo, chief executive of Sentinal Holding which maintains a sex offender database and was part of the task force, "This [study] shows that social networks are not these horribly bad neighborhoods on the Internet. Social networks are very much like real-word communities that are comprised mostly of good people who are there for the right reasons."
Ok, that is a bit of a stretch. But look at all of us. A bunch of mid-century modern moms, blogging away. We are like the poster moms for social networking!