Findings from the “Internet Safety Technical Task Force” Study

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Isttf-coverStudy On Children & The Internet

You may have seen recent news reports about the Internet Safety Technical Task Force’s Study study concerning children and Internet use.

We agree with the task force’s assessment that peer bullying and harassment are the most frequent threats minors face online, and that further research is required regarding the danger from sex offenders (the data used in the study was so old it actually predated the rise of social networking).  The task force’s call for parents to become more engaged and involved in their child’s Internet use is also a good one.

Further, the report encourages parents to explore technological tools for their particular child, and adopt those tools as may be
appropriate. “A combination of technologies,” the report declared, “in concert with parental oversight, social services, law enforcement, and sound policies by social-network sites and service providers, may assist in addressing specific problems that minors face online.”

We see Yoursphere as just that type of tool.

However, critics such as Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who helped create the task force, are also correct in saying that the report misguidedly downplays the threat from sex offenders.

“Children are solicited every day online,” Blumenthal told the New York Times. “Some fall prey, and the results are tragic. That harsh
reality defies the statistical academic research underlying the report.”

Says Blumenthal in a press release, “The report identifies 40 technologies that can make sites safer now, including age and identity
verification tools.”

We at Yoursphere see both the report and the response as validation. From the outset, we founded Yoursphere on a hunch that emerging technologies like age and identity verification, sex offender checks, buttressed by old fashioned human oversight and enforced “rules” would create an ethical online environment that would also discourage predators.  We have always sought to create a safer social networking site that encourages real civil discourse among our members, so it’s nice to see the authorities coming on board.

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