Closing Windows to Online Predators

By Sandra Moore
Staff Writer

The abundance of social media websites on the Internet make it easy for child predators to find their prey. YouTube prankster Coby Persin showed this in his viral video in which he created a fake Facebook account and posed as a 15 year-old boy looking to meet up with girls. Three preteen girls agreed to meet him and upon arrival, encountered their furious parents.

Most are quick to blame the naive group of girls. This approach, however, is no better than victim-blaming. A lack of comprehensive Internet safety education is the real culprit.

Internet safety crash Closing windows to online predators courses tend to use scare tactics in an attempt to keep young people off the Internet all together, but with youth sitting at the core of a technology- centric generation, this couldn’t be further from realistic. Out-of-touch older educators operate under the assumption that abstinence from the internet is the best option, much like outdated sex education from the 20th century. Whether or not they are taught proper Internet safety, children will, and do, go on the Internet before the suggested age of 13, much like how teenagers have sex before marriage. Our sex ed has developed through the years to accommodate our changing culture, and it’s time for Internet education to catch up. Kids today are stuck learning Internet safety through trial and error, which leads to worse situations than Persin’s prank.

Internet safety should be mandated in the classroom, and at a much younger age. Classes should advise students on how to stay safe on the Internet – not to avoid it. And these classes should be led by adults with knowledge of the benefits and detriments of internet chatting, not elders with little experience.

The Internet is valuable for so many things; connecting people is powerful, and it isn’t inherently bad to make friends online. But stories about cyberbullying and kidnappings overshadow this reality.

An ever-expanding Internet means that the world is growing smaller. The ability to reach people halfway across the wor ld is par t of what makes the web so powerful. Future generations have the opportunity to become more culturally aware and sensitive. To do so, they need to learn how to stay away from the creeps and the perverts. They also need to know the power that the Internet holds. If today’s online community is dangerous, nit’s because students find themselves in the dark alleys of the Internet, thanks to a lack of information. Our parents taught us safety on the streets. It’s time for us to learn safety on the World Wide Web.