In the UK, Facebook is being pressured to add a “panic button” to the site in the theory that youth can get instant help if bullied or approached by unsavory characters. Unfortunately this reflects silly thinking about the actual dangers of social networking and how youth respond to them. This article by Anne Collier of ConnectSafely explains why.
She wraps up with this powerful thought –
“But for heaven’s sake – or even better, for youth’s sake – let’s please take the “panic” out of this whole important test. It simply doesn’t lend itself to the calm, mutually respectful conversations that help youth develop the critical thinking that protects on the social Web. We had our predator panic on this side of the pond starting in 2006.
At the Family Online Safety Institute’s annual conference in Washington last fall, the Net-safety field declared it over with a strong consensus that scary messaging is not productive. Why? Because it makes young people less inclined to want to come to us for help. They tend to get as far away as possible from scared, overreacting adults; find workarounds that are readily available to them; and then leave us out of the equation right when loving, steady parent-child communication is most needed.”
Please read the whole article: Connect Safely |Facebook: Why a Safety Center and not a ‘panic button’
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.
- Safety Tips & Advice
- News & Views
- Slideshows & Handouts
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.