TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: The Risk of Misplaced Myspace Hysteria

Re: The Risk of Misplaced Myspace Hysteria
2 Jun 2006 12:41:55 -0700

Andrew Brandt wrote:

> But I see another danger here: Knee-jerk parental reactions shutting
> down a line of communication between parent and child. I heard it from
> the very first caller to a talk radio show I participated in last
> Friday (RealAudio stream, Real player required), and I read vitually
> the same thing from the very first commenter to the blog item Ramon
> McLeod posted on Friday.

One or two sample citizen statements (such as callers to a radio
station) is by no means representative of public opinion or public

> But knee-jerk reactions are even more prevalent in some schools among
> administrators: In one notable recent case, a teacher was suspended
> and "escorted from the building" after the broadcast journalism group
> she supervises produced a hard-hitting segment about the dangers of
> MySpace.

I find the above situation that very hard to believe. If indeed the
teacher got in trouble as described (which may be an exaggeration),
there must have been more to it.

I do agree with your point that parents and kids must communicate
about the dangers of Internet use. The problem is that parents often
don't know what their kids are doing on the computer, and, so many
things happen on the Internet so fast it's hard for parents to keep up
with the latest technology and abuse of technology. For example, a
kid could be illegally downloading and distributing music and the
parent might not have known that was even possible.

But I think overall there is a general blindness of parents and kids
to the dangers of posting personal information on-line to any website.
I strongly doubt any kid would post their beach pictures and personal
info up on a public bulletin board in a mall or town square or share
that information with a stranger. But parents and kids think the
computer is somehow safer. This isn't only young kids, college kids
have sites as well and share an awful lot publicly that they really
should be more discrete about.

There is another issue of how much parental supervision is
appropriate. When I was a teen, I would've been furious if my parents
listened in on my telephone calls and would've been annoyed if they
asked to see every computer printout I made. I think teens are
entitled to some privacy. Unfortunately, the power of the Internet is
so strong that comparing it to old fashioned POTS phone calls is
apples and tomatoes. While my parents didn't listen into
conversations, they knew at least who I was talking to and it was a
peer friend, not some strange adult. Further, with most parents both
working, there isn't much time to monitor all online, text-message,
and cell phone transmissions.

Frankly, I think today's situation is unsatisfactory because people
are exposing themselves (both figuratively and even literally) to
danger via the Internet. But I don't know the solution without
draconian controls and censorship that I don't like.

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