Thursday, February 21, 2008

Online Predators?

It brings evil images into ones head. When I hear the phrase, I automatically think of a middle-aged man sitting in his basement, waiting to spark up a conversation online with a child. Television shows like "To Catch a Predator", reveal that these are people that we may interact with every day.

This is a new report from American Psychologist, a journal of the American Psychological Association.

The report, Online ‘Predators’ and Their Victims: Myths, Realities and Implications for Prevention, sure does put a new twist into the definition of an online predator.

Many eye opening statistics are revealed in this report... You can read it for yourself.

This brings up the importance of education when it comes to children using the internet. How can we expect a child to make decisions about what information not to share online? This would be compared to sitting a child in the seat of a tractor, and telling them to plow a field without any knowledge of how the tractor operates. They would obviously make many mistakes before they figured it out. This is what we are doing with the children.

Online predators are not going anywhere. I'm sorry to say, but they are here to stay. As children continue to use tools online at an earlier age, these types of instances will continue to occur. If parents are not willing to educate their children about online relationships, someone has to. Is this the job of schools? I would argue that it may be.

I tend to integrate knowledge of online child participation into my science classes on a daily basis. We have conversations as to how to properly use the internet, what information is safe to give, and what information you should never give out. I lead by example, explaining to the students how I publish information online. I show them my blog, use wiki's, and speak of what is acceptable to publish. I explain the digital information trail that one leaves behind on the internet.

These are conversations that need to happen in schools. Until next blog...

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