Attempting to legislate the Internet will not
work, as the Internet is global and covers areas where no
single government's rule applies. The jurisdiction issues
make the Internet a haven for fraudulent and illegal activity.
Child exploitation and the rise of Internet
related crimes is increasing. Child exploitation has no boundaries;
pedophiles exist in every socioeconomic, ethnic and religious
community. Consider these statistics, 20% of children online
are approached sexually online. 89% of those advances take
place over instant messaging. Online predators prowl, rebellious
teenagers are opportune targets, and shared personal details
often make them become victims.
This further fuels the discussion of who is
who. Are they really who they say they are, or claim to be?
The Internet is far more complex and "anonymity" might in
fact provide the protection that surfers are seeking.
The anonymity of the Internet is a cause for
concern. Pedophiles hide behind the protection of anonymity,
creating ideal profiles being exactly the friend that impressionable
youngsters want them to be. The fact is that a child doesn't
always know with whom they are interacting with. All of this
makes education critically important.
Children, adolescents, and teens must realize
and understand the risks associated with Internet activities
and modify their personal habits in order to stay safe online.
Sharing private information is just not acceptable. Parents
must realize that the Internet is part of world in which our
children are living, and as much as we would like to shelter
them, it has become an integral part of their worlds. Much
like the warnings that youngsters today grow up with about
not talking to strangers, parents must redefine who strangers
are, so that their children will accurately understand the
online dangers. The critical element to staying safe online
is to be educated and understand the very real risks associated
with online surfing.
While remaining anonymous is part of the problem,
on the Internet, it might actually be a protection. If Pedophiles
can hide behind screen names and pseudonyms, why can't children?
If an adolescent is participating in online communities, whether
its for educational purposes or social entertainment, creating
an anonymous identity will help shield their personal information.
Personal information related to location should still not
be shared but the additional layer, might help shelter the
child from unwanted attention.
While anonymity is a protection for the children,
it also allows them the freedom to be children. Today's employers
often search the Internet for information about potential
employees. Additionally colleges and private schools will
often search a students history on the Internet prior to offering
them admission. As children grow, their views and opinions
often change. The Internet's timeless and endless archive
of those opinions may no longer be an accurate reflection
of who a child has become. Children who post anonymously can
afford the luxury of being a child, without the evolution
of their opinions being available in a searchable archive.
Anonymity on the Internet might be a tool to
help keep children safe, while venturing into the global Internet.
For additional tips to keep children safe online
Security Port - http://www.security-port.com
Wired Kids - http://www.wiredkids.org
About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts.
In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net
a wireless text messaging software company.