ConnectSafely.org responds to the Internet Safety Technical Task Force Report

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONNECTSAFELY.ORG RESPONDS TO THE INTERNET SAFETY TECHNICAL TASK FORCE REPORT PRESENTED AT STATE OF THE NET CONFERENCE
Internet Safety Advocates Stress Education and Behavior Changes

WASHINGTON, DC (January 14, 2009) – The Internet Safety Technical Task Force (ISTTF) today issued its recommendations on enhancing online safety among youths and the extent to which technology can help address risks. The report is being released at the annual “State of the Net” Conference.  ConnectSafely.org, a leading resource on social Web safety, is a member of the Task Force, made up of non-profit organizations and technology companies.

ConnectSafely co-director Anne Collier said, “One of the most important findings in the report is that children’s psychosocial makeup and the conditions surrounding them are more important predictors of risk than the technology they use.” Co-director Larry Magid added, “While we are of course concerned about predators, we’re mostly concerned about how young people treat each other on an increasingly social Web. Peer-to-peer bullying and harassment are far more commonplace than predation.”

ConnectSafely’s statement about the Report is as follows:

“ConnectSafely.org wholeheartedly supports the conclusions of the Report.  We also commend the Attorneys General for advancing this national-level discussion and thereby promoting much-needed fact-based, rather than fear-based, online-safety education.  And we acknowledge, with the Attorneys General, that the report’s findings are by no means conclusive. Further research is needed.

“An important component of the Task Force Report is its research summary, which provides information about likely and — to some extent — exaggerated risks young Internet users have faced through all the interactive technologies available to them, well before social networking emerged. The research shows that neither the problem nor the solution can be relegated to any particular technology or phase of the Web.

“All safety experts agree that youth behavior correlates with risk, and the research shows that youth who take extraordinary risks offline are also likely to take online risks. Educating youth to avoid certain dangerous activities — on and off the Net — will go a long way toward protecting them from all risks, whether coming from adults or other youths. Parents need to know that all online youth are not equally at risk. Only a very small proportion of young Internet users face the risk of sexual exploitation by an adult, and this small group is at risk in their offline lives as well.

“We support the report’s conclusion that – though technology can support families and schools in protecting online youth – “no single technology reviewed [by the Task Force's Technical Advisory Board] could solve every aspect of online safety for minors, or even one aspect of it 100% of the time,” and therefore no single technological solution should be government-mandated.

“Because youth are participants and drivers, not passive consumers, of the social Web, the primary safeguard for youth is education in safe, civil use of the Internet.”

For further perspective on the ISTTF Report and other online safety issues and topics, please visit us at www.connectsafely.org.

About ConnectSafely.org
ConnectSafely.org is the leading interactive resource for parents, teens, educators, advocates and everyone engaged and interested in safety on the social Web.  Founded in 2006 by Internet safety pioneers Larry Magid and Anne Collier, ConnectSafely.org helps to empower families with advice and research-based information about responsible use of the Internet, cellphones, social-network sites, blogging, gaming and other relevant topics of our digital world. The organization focuses on educating families on real-life approaches and practices for safe, healthy social lives online.
ConnectSafely.org is a project of Tech Parenting Group, a nonprofit organization based in Palo Alto, Calif., and Salt Lake City, Utah, with funding from supporters that include AOL, Bebo, CTIA: The Wireless Foundation, Facebook, Google, Hi5, LiveWorld, loopt, MySpace, Ning, Symantec, Trend Micro, Yahoo!, and YourSphere.
To join in the discussion or for more information, please visit us at www.connectsafely.org.

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