No Easy Answer for Protecting Kids Online

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Wednesday, January 14, 2009

No Easy Answer for Protecting Kids Online

I'm not surprised by the results of this study. While it's reasonable to advocate that Internet and social networking providers keep refining security procedures, parents need to be a proactive partner with their kids in attempting to keep them safe online. Even then, there's no iron-clad guarantee of a completely safe Internet.

There is no simple technology solution to protect children from bullying, pornography, sexual predation and other online threats, a new study says.

The highly anticipated report -- results of a year-long study ordered by 49 state attorneys general -- found that "a combination of technologies, in concert with parental oversight, education, social services, law enforcement, and sound policies by social-network sites and service providers, may assist in addressing specific problems that minors face online," according to a draft of the report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The report also found that the risks that minors face on the Web -- notably bullying and harassment by peers -- aren't very different from those they face in the real world.

The 278-page report is a boon for the Web companies, which have long argued that technology isn't the sole solution to the dangers kids face online. It is a disappointment for those in favor of stricter technological controls, such as age-verification and filtering tools.

Attorney General Roy Cooper of North Carolina said in an interview Tuesday: "Clearly, the main responsibility is on parents." But he added that "because technology companies are providing this gathering space and encouraging children to come, they have a duty to put in place technologies that can help protect kids."

Source: Wall Street Journal

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