We know that if you read Sheepshead Bites, you’re already one savvy internet user. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn some additional tips to help protect your kids.
That’s why we’re bringing you a digital version of Parent’s Guide to Internet Safety, a booklet released by State Senator Marty Golden yesterday to help parents keep their children safe.
A little disclaimer is in order, though. When we read the first few lines of the pamphlet, we were disappointed to see an oft-used line that we believe to be misleading and harmful, so we considered axing this publication. Golden starts with a note to constituents that states, “Did you know that one in five children has been sexually solicited online?”
That’s a line that’s frequently deployed by media outlets, advocacy organizations and lawmakers. Unfortunately, it’s misleading and is tinged with an element of fear-mongering.
The number itself dates back to a 2000 study by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, that casts a broad definition of “sexually solicited,” and is often erroneously repeated as one in five children has been “approached by online predators.” Not only that, but the numbers are outdated.
We’re not going to get into all the dirty details – you can find a pretty comprehensive analysis of the statement here. We’re also, for the record, not accusing the senator of fear-mongering – this statement is so frequently repeated that it’s become part of common lore, and we’re reasonably sure Golden has heard it so often he didn’t think to look up the backstory.
So why do we say all this? Misinformation is dangerous, and while parents should take appropriate measures to monitor their children online and ensure their safety, we worry that parents will take their precautions too far, preventing their children from not only the bad, but all the wonderful things the internet has to offer. Like Sheepshead Bites.
That said, the tips are effective and important. Check it out.