Predator Fear

David Pogue’s weekly column in the NY Times linked to a PBS Frontline video segment (part of its Growing Up Online series) titled The Child Predator Fear. Unlike most news treatments the Frontline piece does not raise hysteria. It focuses on a New Jersey family in which the mom fears stalkers lurking on and her teenage children possess common sense of online dangers. A telling moment: the mom voices specific concern about the safety of her attractive teenage daughters while the camera pans their faces. In other words, in sounding the alarm about predation she is exposing her daughters to view of anyone who sees the video on television or online. The video closes with experts concluding that teenagers engage in risker behaviors and face more danger from their offline activities.

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  • Karim Saab

    I agree with Zach, the internet is not going to go away, but on a smaller scale, social website (facebook, myspace) will not either. In the end, it is the parents that need to protect their children from online predators. Parents need to teach their children, not control them. If a child knows the true dangers that online socializing can lead to they are probably much less likely to make mistakes compared to the child who doesn’t know the consequences because his/her parents said its wrong. Once children reach a maturity, I think it is important for parents to tell their children everything about predators. ie what they are after, what they do to children etc. How old should a child be to hear all this? That should be up to the parents.

  • Zach Horowitz

    I agree that online predators are a threat, but the internet is not going anywhere. I think the key is to make sure children are educated on the risks associated with social networking / other internet cites and how to minimize those risks. For example, as the reporter mentioned, most teens know to delete unwanted solicitations. Also, facebook has privacy settings to help the user control who sees what information. I believe this is what parents should focus on instead of trying to be the “internet police.” The woman in this segment is overprotective, bordering on paranoia. If parents are too controlling they can cause their children to shut them out. As a result the most overbearing parents are often the ones that know the least about what there children are actually doing.

  • John MacKinnon

    I certainly agree with the fact that online predators pose a serious threat to our present day society. However, I feel that it is a threat that we can only minimize and never fully eliminate.

    With the rapid development and changes that the web has undergone, predators are always finding new ways to conduct their repulsive acts. It started out with predators using mediums such as AOL and various chatrooms, and later progressed to predators gaining access to websites like Myspace and Facebook.

    The rapid enhancement of each generation’s knowledge of the internet could also be seen as both a positive and a negative. Hopefully, the more children gain knowledge of the threats of online predators, the more cautious they will be.
    But on the other hand, with more people gaining knowledge of how to use the internet every day, it could also increase the potential for predator growth. Many people have visions of online predators as older men or women targeting younger children; however, it has been the case that young teens are using the internet to prey on children of the same age group. As the case with a Chicago teen meeting up with another teen on Myspace and later being a victim of rape. (http://www.vnnforum.com/showthread.php?t=37103#post424583) . Thus, the rise of online predators will continue to be an ongoing problem in this society.

    Thus, the only possible solutions I could see for curbing the risk of online predators is to continue illustrating to young children the dangers on hand, and possibly even finding a way to deny registered sex offenders internet access.

  • Jackie Hodgson

    I feel like there is a disconnect between younger and older generations because older generations see segments about the dangers of being online and they base their opinions solely off of those segments.

    The woman in this segment is extremely overprotective to the point that it is unreasonable. Yes, there are real dangers of the online world; however, our younger generation grew up on the internet and has been constantly reminded of these dangers over and over again to the point that many (but not all) do not even engage in the extremely dangerous online activities.

    I laughed at the fact that she seemed a little oblivious to the dangers of not only exposure on the internet but also on television, as you all pointed out that she exposed her children more on this segment than even online.

  • Geetika

    The internet is a great tool for acquiring and sharing information. However, internet safety must be practised by all for their own good. It is not about preventing the usage of social networking sites, but learning how to use them, with whom to share information and what information. Parents must ensure the safety of their children offline by keeping a tab on what they do, the kind of company they keep and activities they indulge in. An insight into their offline lives can help give them an idea about their online lives. This can be done by engaging in healthy conversations with their children instead of invading on their privacy online.

  • Jimson

    Online predators are a real threat but as the video segment mentions we have to stop thinking about our kids less as victims but more as participants. Many of the initial contacts have come online but many kids have gone offline looking for a meeting. Rather than attempting to restrict internet privacy perhaps parents could be more focused on tutoring their children in internet safety while teaching them how to be safe, what sites to avoid, and to never meet or give information to strangers.

    In regard to the mother exposing her daughters to the public, she might have brought unwarranted attention to them by allowing their faces to appear in a public broadcast. Now, there is a higher likelihood of the daughters catching the ‘eye’ of a predator (the mother’s initial concern) and possibly becoming a target.