A Funny Video about Online Predators? Yup!

So I just  read yet another article about how to protect your child from all the perverts sliming around on social media, like MySpace and Facebook.

Hooey.

I’m all for protecting kids from crime and creeps, but the advice had it wrong. Both the Crimes Against Children Research Center and Harvard’s  Berkman Center for Internet and Society  studied what happens to kids on line. Both concluded that when kids are posting photos and chatting with each other and even giving out personal info — the big “no no” everyone warns about — they are not putting themselves at risk!

As David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center said: Predators are no more likely to go through page after page of Facebook than they are to open the phone book to try to find a date. It is, he said, a “low-yield” proposition and they know it.

So where DO they go?  To chat rooms devoted to sex. The “red light” district of the Internet. And generally the young people they meet there, eager to chat with strangers about sex, are the same ones hanging out in kind of sketchy places with sketchy people in the real world. And generally these young folk have been through some tough times already (abuse, neglect) and are looking for love in all the wrong places.  

Here’s an article from Mommymythbuster talking about the Harvard study on Internet predators. And here’s a great New York Times article where the author, David Pogue, set out to write about all the  horrors kids face on line…then realized that’s not what’s happening:

Sure, there are dangers. But they’re hugely overhyped by the media. The tales of pedophiles luring children out of their homes are like plane crashes: they happen extremely rarely, but when they do, they make headlines everywhere. The Internet is just another facet of socialization for the new generation; as always, common sense and a level head are the best safeguards.

Love that guy. Anyway, upon reading all this info AND seeing a scary public service ad warning parents of perverts ever ready to pounce on the Internet, some funny folks at Columbia Teachers College decided to make a video putting the danger into perspective. Predators and puppetry? Perfect together. Click to watch! (If I could figure out how to embed the video right here, I would. But I just spent half an hour trying and have no clue. Sorry!) — Lenore

The Media Show: Online Predators?

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27 Responses

  1. I am so sick of the boogy man on the internet. Millions of kids use it every day with out being harmed.

    I am a teacher and I use technology every day in my classroom. For the last few years I taught Tech to K – 5 students (about 700 kids)

    My colleagues were shocked shocked I tell you that I will not use the “safe” web search engine the district paid for. (they have decided not to waste this money anymore YEA!!!) Instead the students used Google.

    They aren’t going to go through the 5 steps to log into a search engine that doesn’t turn up the right info 90% of the time at home. I needed to teach them to surf correctly using Google.

    Did my kids hit some inappropriate sites? Yes – but I had already armed them.

    What to do if you hit an inappropriate site
    1. Turn off the screen
    2. Tell the nearest adult or get Ms. Herbert or Librarian
    (The history on computers is checked. So telling the adult protects the kids from being accused of doing it on purpose.)

    I look at the site – depending on the intention of the site I

    1. Report it to IT to be blocked (CYA for me)

    2. Report an inappropriate posting to the monitors of the site

    3. If it is a wiki I join and change the inaccurate/inappropriate information.

    4. I send a quick e-mail to student(s) homeroom teacher, and our admin with info about the site, the students’ innocence in finding it, and what I’ve done to fix the situation. (CYA in case the parents call upset after their student says something)

    5. If the child was upset by the content. For example a student on free time looked up information about breast cancer because her mother had been diagnosed the day before found pictures of stage 4 breast cancer. I call in our nurse/social worker/councilor/previous teacher and we also call the parent immediately.

    Once in a rare while a student will deliberately search using inappropriate topics/language. That student gets a ton of bricks dumped on them. Lose privileges and have to earn back my trust. It happens maybe once a year – usually with a new to the school student. The other students tell them don’t tick off Ms. Herbert she lets you make movies, podcasts, chat, look up stuff on computers, play video games if you are good.

    Due to funding cuts I’m teaching 4th grade this year. Principal is working on refunding the tech position. I’ve got some plans this year. My kids are going to have an blast.

  2. Oh Lenore, for all your facts and statistics and quotable experts, don’t you realize that

    EVEN IF IT HAPPENS ONLY ONCE THAT MEANS IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU AND SO CLEARLY IF YOU GIVE ANY INFORMATION OUT ON THE INTERNET EVER OR ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO YOU OBVIOUSLY ARE SO NAIVE OR WORSE DO NOT EVEN LOVE YOUR CHILD!!!

    Ok, I’m so sorry for the silliness. Overly-caffeinated and high-spirited today.

    In all seriousness, thank you for this post – I liked the video as well (and pretty cool looking puppets!). Looking forward to your tweet so I can RT it.

  3. Your statement “generally the young people they meet there, eager to chat with strangers about sex, are the same ones hanging out in kind of sketchy places with sketchy people in the real world. And generally these young folk have been through some tough times already (abuse, neglect) and are looking for love in all the wrong places.” is akin to saying “It’s their own fault… if they didn’t hang around in bad places, this wouldn’t happen:”

    I disagree with you on this. Husband investigates child sex crimes and they most certainly DO happen from social networking sites. Not all of them, but enough of them to pay attention. And while the overall “feel” of your message is accurate, the quoted text really rubbed me the wrong way.

    Just my two cents

  4. “Your statement “generally the young people they meet there, eager to chat with strangers about sex, are the same ones hanging out in kind of sketchy places with sketchy people in the real world. And generally these young folk have been through some tough times already (abuse, neglect) and are looking for love in all the wrong places.” is akin to saying “It’s their own fault… if they didn’t hang around in bad places, this wouldn’t happen:” ”

    No, it’s not. It’s saying that the internet is no different from the real world–sketchy, dangerous places are avoidable and recognizable. Saying that some people choose not to avoid them is not blaming them for doing so, it’s a mere statement of fact that they are choosing not to avoid them, rather than stumbling upon them accidentally. The value judgment is coming from you.

  5. I worry much more about other kids harrassing my kids online than I do adults harassing my kids online.

    My objection to excessive time on the internet is simple: kids need real friends, not virtual ones. They need to have real experiences, not pretend ones. The internet is a research tool for them at this point, nothing more.

  6. Click through on the video so you’re looking at just the normal YouTube page for the one video, not the whole channel. You’ll see a grey box at the upper right that contains video information, a URL link, and an embed link. If you copy and paste the embed link into your page, boom! Embedded video.

  7. […] A Funny Video about Online Predators? Yup! « FreeRangeKids By cagefreekids As David Finkelhor, head of the Crimes Against Children Research Center said: Predators are no more likely to go through page after page of Facebook than they are to open the phone book to try to find a date. … Love that guy. Anyway, upon reading all this info AND seeing a scary public service ad warning parents of perverts ever ready to pounce on the Internet, some funny folks at Columbia Teachers College decided to make a video putting the danger into perspective. … FreeRangeKids – https://freerangekids.wordpress.com/ […]

  8. @kherbert: Common sense… oh my goodness I love it. 😀 You sound like you were running a great program and I hope you get your funding back. People like you need to be in charge of things like that more often. Kudos!

  9. I posted this to my Facebook page. I love it!

  10. …fear sells, blame our brains….logical arguments will not work against….blaming the media for selling us what we buy is silly as well….according to stats, kids are FAR more likely to be sexually & otherwise abused by parents/ relatives…esp boys…of course no one wants to look at that….addiction, esp alcoholism usually the cause…mom’s are most likely abusers….Brits uncovered yrs ago…coverage blocked in US….

  11. Whaaat? Moms are abusing kids or alcohol? What coverage was blocked?

  12. …o yea, abusers also like religious settings….catholic church in ireland, recent horrible report….evangelical churches, etc…..but you know all this….rt?

  13. internet …
    I mailed my own grandson (a hostage of the Dept. of Human Svcs Agency) — an email – telling him the truth – that DHS planned to sell him out for adoption to NY or Boston. The Child Warehousing unit where he lives (aka foster care paid providers) caught it – forwarded it to the DHS Agent – who went to court and banned ME from any contact with my grandsons … They deemed MY missive to be harmful..

    IMO – if they view the fact that I TOLD him of their plans – perhaps they should alter their agenda … I spoke truth.

    so – yes – the internet can be harmful — if DHS Agents are allowed to interfere with emails between family members – and then go to court to BAN grandmothers from grandchildren.

  14. ….brits did study of abusive parents years ago….surprised to find mom’s were most abusive…US press did not cover….we all love our moms rt?….alcoholism actually effects women’s brains worse then men’s….shrinks it…lots of bad effect for children depending on care…any kind of kid abuse usually tied to addiction/alcoholism which is genetic and runs through families for generations…abusers, were abused who were abused, on and on it goes…the data is all available…no mystery…we in US don’t like the facts though goes against pop/religious culture/psychology…no money to be made doing that!…europeans and brits much more into science+child protection…2 bad really…plus US hates blacks and darker races so….who cares about them!?

  15. Wow. Another American (I’m assuming since you said “we”) bad mouthing America. How original. So now we’re all racist people covering for our abusive, alcoholic mothers because the facts go against pop culture?! I’m sorry but I don’t get it. I’m not saying you’re wrong (or right) but you just really annoyed me. Do you have a link to these studies done? I’d be interested in reading them. BTW-if they were blocked in the US how can you accuse us of ignoring them because we don’t care?

  16. …wot america doesn’t hate black folks and barely tolerates other darker skinned folks!….ok…ask ur black friends…all this is available on google…angry wid the messenger huh?….sounds like this all struck a nerve….come clean…..y pretend?…blocked as in editors understand there will be reader backlash….disinterest…cuz the facts goes against our myths….this is not rocket science…simple medical stats…

  17. …here’s on of the long-term effects of living w/ addictions/abuse and resulting PTSD: ” Chronic stress may rewire our brains to act out of habit and ignore changes around us.”

    pretty mechanical really…..

    http://sciencenow.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/2009/730/3?etoc

  18. @BMS: You’re absolutely right about kids harassing other kids on the Internet. Or harassing other kids with their overinvolved parents’ help. I’m thinking of the case of poor Megan Meier, whose Internet argument with a girl at her school caused the other girl’s mother to create an online profile of a boy who pretended to be interested in Meier, and then told her that she was worthless. Meier committed suicide as a result. I think this was technically the first death directly resulting from helicopter parenting.

  19. “and even giving out personal info — the big “no no” everyone warns about — they are not putting themselves at risk!”
    I’d like to point out that there are different kinds of risks. Sharing of personal information online is a good behaviour to avoid for people of any age. Identity theft thrives on people who share thoughtlessly, and probably a greater risk- future employers really frown on the overly open practices of users on places like facebook. This has nothing to do with fearmongering- it’s just a good idea to teach children (and adults) that things posted online are visible to anyone, and they stay online even after we THINK we’ve deleted them.

  20. The identity theft thing is a much more real threat, as many adults know. Sounds like an instance of having the same result for a different reason. Identity thefts have been known to happen where the person whose identity is stolen is a child or teenager instead of another adult. I imagine that’s harder to spot for the victim/family, since children don’t make many purchases and certainly don’t make major ones.

  21. Thanks for the common sense on this one. What as a society spend way to much time on the what if? rather than dealing with the facts.

  22. I have met some of my best friends in the world online through an online moms group. Some of us have now known each other for 6 years. When we first started meeting it was in public places. Or if I was going to someone’s house for a play group I wouldn’t go alone the first time. Stuff like that. Those are all part of ordinary safety stuff. Just like crossing the street, we can’t keep our kids from doing it forever and then one day say, “Go ahead and cross a busy intersection and while you are at it get on Facebook, good luck!” I tried to help my son get on Facebook recently and I couldn’t because he’s not quite 13, and I told him I wouldn’t lie about his age for him. He has many friends on FB and they are also under the required age (and their parents know about it, so the kids either lied or their parents did for them). I really think a FB account would be fine and am willing to approve it, but FB is being overly cautious. Thanks Media Hype!

  23. Speaking of identity theft, does anyone remember the guy who gave all his personal information in a youtube video? Does anyone know what happened? He said he trusted that nobody would do anything inapropriate with the information. Haha, if anyone did, it was more likely someone who believed people were bad and just wanted to prove it…not actually someone who stole people’s identities for personal gain.

    I put a fair amount of information on the internet because I’m not that worried about it. And I always use my real name in posts because I’m not hiding anything. The internet isn’t really as scary as some people think it is. I’d be interested to know how many of the people who sign up for prize draws in their own cities and such refuse to put information on the internet…because prize draws, there’s a place people will use your information for annoying purposes…but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to enter:-)

  24. @Meadowlark: “…is akin to saying “It’s their own fault… if they didn’t hang around in bad places, this wouldn’t happen:” ”

    I don’t agree with this. I don’t blame victims of crimes (yes, there wasa time when it was thought that rape victims “asked for it” due to provocative dress or behavior… and that attitude is deplorable. This is about prevention, though… teaching our kids (and ourselves) not to put themselves in situations that make them statistically more likely to be a target. It can be little things: walking confidently, with your hear up and aware of your surroundings. It could mean avoiding walking alone in the dark through certain areas. In this specific instance, it’s suggesting that we can make ourselves less vulnerable to online predators by avoiding chat rooms devorted to sex, and not chatting about sex with strangers. Seems like good advice to me… way better than “do not let kids on the internet, ever, and especially do not let them communicate to their friends on there!”

    I’m glad not all parents are scared of the internet. I use FB as the primary form of communication with my 15 year old babysitter, and we even (*gasp*) exchanged phone numbers. I have some very good friends that I “met” first on the internet. My 6 yr old daughter does use a kid’s search engine (KidZui) and email program (Zoobuh), but that was as much for convenience as safety… the interfaces are very kid-friendly, and both have worked out well for her. So I don’t have any problem with these types of things, it’s the absolute terror that some people have surrounding kids and computers that baffles me.

  25. Amaing post , please post more and I will bookmark you

  26. Wow lovely hotties you have here , thank you and I hope for more soon !

  27. The link seems to have been changed: http://www.youtube.com/user/themediashow#p/u/34/9lsnC-iWHJ0

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