I was so glad to come across this article about a study from the University of New Hampshire. It is entitled “Technology alone can’t protect minors from online sex predators”. Amen. The number one problem with technology solutions is the false sense of security that parents have when that technology is deployed. The problem of online predators and other cyber dangers is not going to be solved by simply making use of more technology – it requires that we interact with our children, teach them of the dangers in the world, and help them understand how to recognize the warning signs, and inform them of what to do when the see those signs.
It would be easy to mis-interpret this report, however, to indicate that there is not a problem. UNH has released other reports in recent years that indicate that online predators are not as big of a problem as the media makes it out to be, like this study indicating that it is more often the case that teenagers get involved over the Internet fully aware of what they are doing – as opposed to being lured into a meeting unwittingly by a predator. There certainly may be some validity to that notion – but that doesn’t change the fact that there are predators out there, and they do prey on our children.
The bottom line from both of these reports is spot-on, in my opinion: technology won’t solve this problem. Whether the problem is predators, or whether it is youth knowingly getting involved online with some one who may do them harm – the answer is not more technology. This problem will only be solved when we teach our children how to deal with these issues, and what to do about them – whether they run into these dangers in the real world or the virtual one. Technology has its place, and should be employed to its fullest – but we cannot end there. Technology cannot be a replacement for communication between parents and children.