Cox Commuincations Report on Child Predators with John Walsh
I read with interest the article in USA Today last week talking about how this whole issue of child predators on the internet is not as bad as is claimed.
The very first question asked by our staff at MAX is "Who paid for this?".
It is pure hogwash.
The article goes to state statistics from a study done in early 2005. They quoted numbers from MySpace at that time. They used a statistical family of children aged 10-17.
Let's speak frankly.
The study is 18 months old. At that time, MySpace had at best 3-4 million people online. Today that number is over 100 million and growing at the rate of 1000's per day. Therefore, the data is outdated and does not apply.
Second the age group is off. There is solid evidence that the activity of peer to peer networking does not start in earnest until a child is about 12 and grows rapidly as the child ages. This makes sense. Our children become socially active about the time of puberty. So their online social networking would only naturally correspond to their own physical development process. However, this survey used an audience of 10 and 11 year olds. These young kids are not socially active to the degree as their teenage counterparts. To use data from this age group skews the data. Therefore, the data is irrelevant to our understanding.
Finally, why is MySpace specifically mentioned in the USA Today article. I am not so ignorant to understand that a lot of focus is on MySpace as a conduit for child predators. But their are other conduits as well. Why isn't MSN Messenger or AIM mentioned? I must believe this is a paid PR to try to convince the unknowing that MySpace is being unjustly ridiculed. There is much good that can be found in MySpace and I am impressed that Mr. Murdoch has created such a social networking environment on the internet. But IT IS a conduit for predators and pornographers to reach our children. I would hope that the powers to be at MySpace would be proactive and take a public stand against predators and pornographers using there service.
While looking at this article, I located a press release regarding research conducted by Cox Communications and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. We, at MAX, believe the data in this research better describes the problem.
Taken from this press release:
Teen Internet use and attitudes about safety present potential risks, but they also reveal
opportunities for education and highlight a critical role for watchful parents and guardians:
Teens continue to be active online but some still engage in risky behavior:
• Teens have established a significant presence on social networking web sites:
o 61% of 13- to 17-year-olds have a personal profile on sites such as MySpace,
Friendster, or Xanga. Half have posted pictures of themselves online.
o Older teens (16- to 17-year-olds) and girls represent the majority of youths who use
the Internet for social interaction, meeting friends, and networking.
• However, many have also been exposed to the accompanying potential risks.
o 14% have actually met face-to-face with a person they had known only through the
Internet (9% of 13- to 15-year-olds and 22% of 16- to 17-year-olds).
o 30% have considered meeting someone they’ve only communicated with online.
o 71% reported receiving messages online from someone they don’t know.
o 45% have been asked for personal information by someone they don’t know.
• When teens receive messages online from someone they don’t know, 40% usually reply to
and chat with that person.
o Only 18% said they tell a parent or guardian that they received a message from
someone they don’t know.
Many teens consider their online behavior to be safe
• One out of five teens reported that it is safe (i.e. “somewhat” or “very safe”) to share
personal information on a public blog or networking site.
• As well, 37% of 13- to 17-year-olds said they’re “not very concerned” or “not at all
concerned” about someone using personal information they’ve posted online in ways they
Parents and guardians can impact their teen’s online experience through
• 33% of 13- to 17-year-olds reported that their parents or guardians know “very little” or
“nothing” about what they do on the Internet.
o 48% of 16- to 17-year-olds said their parents or guardians know “very little” or
“nothing” about their online activities.
• Fully 22% of those surveyed reported their parents or guardians have never discussed
Internet safety with them.
• On the other hand, 36% of youth—girls and younger teens, most notably—said their parents
or guardians have talked to them “a lot” about online safety, and 70% said their parents or
guardians have discussed the subject with them during the past year.
• Fewer teens whose parents and guardians have talked to them “a lot” about online safety
have an instant messaging (IM) name or pictures of themselves on the Internet, compared
to kids whose parents or guardians haven’t talked to them at all. More teens who’ve talked
to parents or guardians ignore messages from unfamiliar people, refuse to reply or chat,
block unknown senders, and report these occurrences to trusted adults.
The national teen Internet survey was funded by Cox Communications in partnership with
NCMEC and was conducted among 1,160 teens age 13 to 17 during March 2006. The research
was conducted by Teen Research Unlimited (TRU).
Your thoughts please ?