The Monster Under the Bed
Now that the Shawn Hornbeck and Ben Ownby case appears to have an online connection, in that the older boy maintained internet profiles on social networking sites and posted messages to a board set up by his parents on a missing child site designed to search for him, it is likely that regulatory pressures to limit access to the Internet by minors may be back in the news this congressional year. Although we all certainly hope that DOPA is dead, the possibility that electronic predatory behavior may have been involved on multiplayer gaming sites as well may cause elected representatives to revisit the issue.
Of course, as danah boyd points out the facts about online sexual abuse point to likelihood of face-to-face relationships being the key factor and the role of the social safety net in prevention, particularly in intervening when abusive family members are involved. But the old Platonic anxieties about disembodied new media and its possible corrupting influence on the young are certainly still around, as recent blog postings warning about children imitating the hanging of Saddam Hussein as it was shot on a cell phone and posted on video-sharing sites show.
With the government getting into the act of promoting fear at onguardonline.gov and even former political sex kitten Donna Rice climbing on the bandwagon, advocates for digital rights should be gearing up for more conflict.
Labels: digital parenting