Is Safety All That It’s Cracked Up To Be?

Via the Age and Garry at education.au comes reference to a recent Second Youth Internet Safety Survey report from the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. The survey sought

“….. to examine whether sharing personal information and talking with strangers online or other behaviors are associated with the greatest odds for online interpersonal victimization.”

Amongst a number of findings the report suggests that placing of or sharing personal details via the internet is not in itself as important to ensuring safe internet experiences as is addressing issues of etiquette including harassment, sexually oriented posting and having multiple unknown online friends.

The suggestion from the commentary on the report is that we need to be wary in our discussions on internet safety with students that we need to be careful in the message we promote that we are not wasting time and energy on issues that aren’t related. The focus instead should be on addressing the underlying causes of the harassing and other behaviours.

That said, other experts quoted by the Age made the point that the reason for preserving identity is not solely in the province of safety but more an issue of privacy. Given the relative naivety of the age group involved and the manner in which adolescents sometimes seek to find their personal identity by exploring the broadest of behavioral  parameters, giving free reign to these in a public manner can be potentially damaging in later life. Maybe this will be the focus of further study. 

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