Amy Tiemann has a blog post on CNET titled Online Safety Needs to Go Beyond “Don’t Talk to Strangers.” The focus of the post is on an Internet Prevention Messages research study to explore the odds for online interpersonal victimization (i.e. unwanted sexual solicitation or harassment) of youth ages 10-17 published in the February issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. The study concludes:
Talking with people known only online (“strangers”) under some conditions is related to online interpersonal victimization, but sharing personal information is not. Engaging in a pattern of different kinds of online risky behaviors is more influential in explaining victimization than many specific behaviors alone. Pediatricians should help parents assess their child’s online behaviors globally in addition to focusing on specific types of behaviors.
What I find really encouraging is the active role pediatricians are taking to protect children online by publishing the results of the study and saying how pediatricians can help parents. This supports my “It Takes a Village” theory that we all need to be active participants in protecting children in our virtual world – the responsibility does not solely rest on the parents. Especially when you consider the final finding of this study which Amy comments on at the end of her post:
A final finding, that the risk for online victimization is elevated when kids experience offline abuse, victimization or conflict with their parents, underscores the complexities of the situation and the need for social protection through sound laws and public policy.