The online-safety messages most Americans are getting are still pretty much one-size-fits-all and focused largely on adult-to-child crime, rather than on what the growing bodies of both Net-safety and social-media research have found.
… still focuses on technology not behavior as the primary risk and characterizes youth almost without exception as potential victims.
… fails to recognize youth agency: young people as participants, stakeholders, and leaders in an increasingly participatory environment online and offline.
… is still negative, lacks context, and is largely irrelevant to youth.
To be relevant to young people, its intended beneficiaries, Net safety needs to respect youth agency, embrace the technologies they love, use social media in the instruction process, and address the positive reasons for safe use of social technology.
On ConnectSafely.org, co-directors Larry Magid and Anne Collier offer insightful (and sane!) resources for educators and parents about being safe in the digital world.
Resources like this can help educators and parents move beyond the hysteria about children and the digital world. It’s crucial that adults find ways to include and guide youth in positive exploration and use of these new tools and technologies. Demonizing and criminalizing normal behavior won’t solve anything and creates a climate of fear that alienates people and stifles discussion.
Resources like ConnectSafely.org make me hopeful that the climate is changing and a new maturity is emerging about youth and digital technology.