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Deleting Online Predators

Last week  Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick introduced the Deleting Online Predators Act, which among other things would prevent access by anyone under 18 to social-networking sites like MySpace and Facebook from public school and public library computers and networks.

BusinessWeek has some discussion of this.

Obviously the Internet industry is up in arms about this, as a draconian measure without necessarily any clear way to enforce it. And they certainly have some good points. This is a pretty broad brush to use to paint the social networking cottage industry.

At the same time, we should ask: what is the right balance between teaching individual responsibility for safe Net usage, and building a "walled garden" for the kids to play in? And how should responsibility be shared between parents, the kids themselves, the schools, and governments?


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  • Alfred ThompsonAlfred Thompson

    Kids are unsupervised on the Internet at home a lot more than at school. But of course no one talks about parental responsibility because schools are such an easy target these days. Schools should be teaching Internet safety but parents need to do their part as well.

  • Kevin SchofieldKevin Schofield

    Alfred: true, but kids are asleep for most of that time.

  • Chris WilliamsChris Williams

    Parents need to take a more active role in where the kids go, just like what they watch on tv.  It's not enough to make sure your kids are home by dark anymore... the real danger is sitting in your living room (or in their bedroom, out of sight...)

    I grew up with a computer in my bedroom (and a 300 baud modem) and you can imagine the trouble I got into as a kid. My kids have computers in their bedrooms, with local network access (yeah I'm a geek) but the only computers in the house with internet are in the living room and my office.

    Problem is, most parents aren't as tech savvy as the folks reading this blog. "We" need to educate them. Most parents I've talked to don't even realize how much they DON'T know... and how much their kids DO know.

    My oldest kid lives with her mom and has ZERO supervision online when she's there. She feels like a weekend visitor to Alcatraz when she comes to my house since I won't let her spend 18 hours a day on IM and MySpace.

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