Monday, November 2, 2009

The Internet Bogeyman is dead. Common sense finally prevails.

The Internet Bogeyman appears to finally be dying, and at (very, very) long last, common sense appears to finally be prevailing.

A recent CNET News article describes a move towards "digital citizenship" education. Rather than fear-mongering and the perpetuation of ignorance when it comes to Internet safety issues such as online predators, online dating, online bullying, social networks, viruses/spyware/malware, spam, and scams, people are finally beginning to understand that the Internet isn't going away, and that we'd better start teaching people how to actually deal with and (easily) avoid those threats.

Of course, switching to a common-sense plan of teaching people about online responsibility and very basic technical safeguards is probably less lucrative than advocating paranoia, but it's another sign that the net has become mature when there are enough stakeholders interested in Internet safety that the fear-mongers have become outnumbered by those advocating a more moderate message.

A paper mentioned in the article, Online Safety 3.0, calls for "moving away from fear-based messages toward an emphasis on media literacy and digital citizenship, including recognizing young people not as 'victims' but as stakeholders in positive Internet use. Instead of schools filtering out access to social-networking sites, we believe they should be incorporating social media not only to enhance learning but to promote responsibility."