Children Largely Surf the Web Unsupervised.

Thomas J. Hanson, Open Education, Oct 21, 2009
Commentary by Stephen Downes

OK, there are a couple ways of looking at this. First, the astonishing headline news: "just under half of the parents have implemented internet filtering or parental controls, leaving nearly 60% of youngsters in the 12-15 age group to use the internet unsupervised... one in six users aged 5-7 are also mostly left to use the internet unsupervised as well." OK, if these numbers reflect anything like similar trends over the last decade or so, shouldn't we have seen by now a wave of injury and trauma? I mean, if this sort of situation is dangerous, shouldn't we be seeing casualties by now? If 60 percent of children ran through red lights, we'd be hearing about it. So, given these statistics, what is the case for Internet Safety, properly so-called?

It brings to mind a case from Halifax last night. In what must be a case of Worst. Babysitting. Ever. a naked three-year old child was found wandering up the on-ramp to a major bridge leading over the harbour. A person, when interviewed, expressed shock and said, "he could have been kidnapped or something." And I'm sitting there and thinking, your child is walking outside naked in late October on a major road leading over a bridge, and your perception of the risk is that he might be kidnapped? I think a lot of 'Internet Safety' falls into this category. Children face risks, sure, but they are at much greater risk from more immediate threats than from unspecified danger posed by the internet.
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