Recently, I engaged in a bit of a Twitter-debate around Internet dangers and kids.
In the wake of recent tragedies stemming from online bullying and sexual exploitation, there have been serious discussions around implementing protections for minors online. It's argued that these protections should be the responsibility of social media companies. Currently, parents are floundering trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape of the Internet and social media. Our children are making adult decisions online. Predators know it too and are exploiting it to no end.
Those who oppose restrictions and protections argue that it is up to parents to teach children best judgement and to exercise common sense online. I think this is absurd.
Of course, parents will do whatever they can to protect their children from predators and exploitation. Just ask Carol Todd, mother of Amanda Todd, the B.C. teen who recently took her own life after being bullied and sexually exploited online.
We can teach young people how to behave appropriately online, however, I don't think it's possible that all of them will. We have restrictions on the age a child can drive a car -- this is because a car is a powerful and potentially dangerous tool. Even when we do allow our kids to eventually get behind the wheel, we can only hope they will be heeding the advice they have been given. Same goes for substances like alcohol and tobacco: we know these items are harmful and there are laws to govern their use. The industries themselves are mandated to protect minors from misuse.
Nevertheless, some people believe that kids and parents should just navigate the wild, wild west of the internet alone.
Others believe industry should be working to make the Internet a less scary and potentially harmful place for children.
Raffi Cavoukian (known and loved my most as simply Raffi) is a passionate advocate for a child's right to live free of commercial exploitation. He and many other concerned B.C. citizens banded together to form Red Hood Project, a movement for consumer protection for children online.
Don't get me wrong. I love the Internet. I love the connections I make, the work I can do and the possibilities it presents. However, I strongly believe that the Internet can be a dangerous place.
As an adult I recognize that online activity can become all consuming -- addictive even. A child should not be expected to exercise the same level of self-regulation and caution that I do as an adult. The adults that are running these industries, along with our government should be aiming to protect children online.
Currently, it seems that the inmates are running the asylum.
What are your thoughts? Should more be done to protect children online? Who's responsibility should this be?