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IN FRATERNAM MEAM
Friday, June 10, 2005
TO BLOG OR NOT TO BLOG? FOR WARY PARENTS, THAT IS THE QUESTION
To adolescents it's a diary and a fun forum of self-expression. But could blogging be dangerous?

Earlier this year, 13-year old Shannon Sullivan of Wood Ridge, N.J., was socializing in the same way as dozens of her classmates at Our Lady of the Assumption School. She maintained a personalized page on a Web site that contained her photograph and personal details. Freinds would surf by and leave fun messages.

Then her mother found out. Now her site, and those of her friends -- once lovingly adorned with sound bites and video clips -- are fast disappearing at the insistence of their saftey minded parents.

"They're not aware how easily something (predatory) can happen over the Internet," says Shannon's mother, Margaret, a computer science teacher at the Assumption. "They really shouldn't have these sites. Maybe when they're older, in college or something, but it's just not safe before that."

Blog busting parents face what can be a thorny fight. Of the world's approximately 38 million "blogs" or self published Web pages, 52.8 percent belong to those age 19 or younger, says date from the Perseus Co., a maker of Web surveying software. By year end, the firm expects the number of blogs to reach 53.4 million. According to Perseus, the typical blogger is a teen girl communicating with friends.

Some adults feel the stakes are too high to accept blogs as just another form of self-expression . Crime worries trump a desire to honor young people's privacy. Internet stalkers have killed at least four minors in the past three years, and authorities count about 5,000 reports of attempted sexual predation over the Internet in the past year, says Parry Aftab, executive director of Wiredsafe-ty-org. and internet safety organization.

So parents need to get over the feeling that they're invading their children's privacy by reading their blogs. Aftab says. She believes parents must bring their judgement to bear on what's posted.

Others feat that certain perceptions could be like swatting a fly with a sledgehammer. The likelihoof of tragedy is greater when a child reides in acar or goes swimming thatn when he or she posts his or her name, photo and other personal information on the Internet, says Laurence Steiberg, and expert in adolescent psychology at Temple University and author of The 10 Basic Principles of Good Parenting.

After age 13 or 14, he says, children with good records of being responsible should be able to post personal content without parents looking over their shoulders.

Aftab suports privacy with paper diaries, because the content there is "between (the child) and the page," but Web content is "for the whole world to see". Posting private Web content before age 16 only invites trouble, she says.

Where cautious parents may err, some experts say, is in adopting rigid computer rules that don't evolve as a child demonstrates responsibilities and discretion. At some point, children have to exercise their own judgement and freedom.

Youths can run into trouble with their Web postings,a ccording to Wiredsafety.org, by bullying their peers. Aftab gives a hypothetical example: A teenager pretends to be another student by putting up a Web site, identifying the student as gay, and declaring a sexual preference for football players.

More common is lying to get access. Myspace.com requires participants be 16 or older; scores of underage teens have simply lied about their age to establish sites there.

(abstracted from the Christian Science Monitor/ by: Jeffrey Macdonald)
posted by infraternam meam @ 4:46 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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