Fear and Control Online
Wes Fryer posted about a report in the February-March 2008 issue of American Psychologist titled “Online ‘Predators’ and Their Victims: Myths, Realities, and Implications for Prevention and Treatment.” Wes and LiveScience’s “Bad Science Columnist writer, Benjamin Radford, outline the myths of the report that says in its opening paragraph, “The publicity about online ‘predators’ who prey on naive children using trickery and violence is largely inaccurate.” Later, the authors write “The purpose of this article is to provide an accurate, research-based description of the characteristics and prevalence of this high-profile social problem; make recommendations for effective responses; indicate needs for future research; and give professionals basic resources to help manage issues that arise in practice and other contexts.”
Say what? A rational, research-based, purposeful approach to a problem? What will the social activists on NBC and in Washington, DC say? What will all the school Internet filter managers say? What about CIPA?! What shall we do?!
Ignore the research and the professionals in the field and make decisions based on hysteria and sensationalized media reports.
Don’t educate yourself by reading Internet Safety and Social Networking for Parents or Safe Digital Social Networking. They’re posted on wikis and everyone knows those are unreliable. In fact, did you know wikis lure our children to their intellectual demise and are completely unreliable? People who want to corrupt our children use, ugh, wikis…and blogs and social networking sites and all of those newfangled tools of destruction.
Let your preconceptions make your decisions.
Avoid tough topics and conversations about the nature and sources of the problem. They may make you and others uncomfortable.
Scare people by telling them only part of the truth. It’s best just to tell people only about the bad stuff that’s out there -so they can know.
Fool yourself into believing that you can monitor and restrict all your kids’ online interactions. Who uses text messaging anyway?
Blame the schools.
Underestimate others and overestimate yourself. After all it worked for Great Britain and the colonists, the church and Martin Luther, Hitler and the British, South African people and the apartheid-South African government.
Social networking isn’t just about the high profile online sites, it’s about the millions of blogs like this one. In fact, if you’re here and you don’t think you’re a social networker, think again. Do all of us need to be aware of the risks? Absolutely. However, I’m still waiting for the media frenzy and social activism for the greatest risk of all to our kids, one we actually expect most of our kids to participate in. I shudder to think of the rights violations arguments and lawsuits that would happen if we took the same fear and control approach.
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Currently, I’m a Principal for my district’s online high school. This is my 21st year in the education business. I’ve spent most of those years in a high school (9-12) setting as a Teacher (English, Technology, & Newspaper), Administrator, Coach, Technology Coordinator, and database systems administrator. I’ve presented at several professional conferences on technology and educational topics.
If you would like to read a longer post that follows the thread of my educational career and its formation, check out Frame of Reference.
Below is a modified CV for the curious.
- Principal, December 2007 to present
- Assistant Principal, July 2003 to December 2007
- Assistant Principal, July 2003 to July 2005
- Educational Systems Administrator, July 2000 to June 2003
- Basketball Coach, June 2000 to April 2003
- July 2000 to March 2003 -Junior Varsity Girls
- November 1993 to March 1997 -Freshmen Boys
- Technology Coordinator, July 1998 to July 2000
- Teacher, English and Technology, August 1993 to June 1998
- Newspaper Co-Advisor, August 1995 to May 1997
- Student Council Co-Sponsor August 1993 to May 1995
I should probably add a disclaimer that the content posted here is my own (with the exceptions of those posting in reply, obviously) and should not be construed as representing the views, opinions, policies, or positions of those by whom I am employed.
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