Is The Internet Much Safer for Kids Than Anyone Thought?

Didn’t Dateline: To Catch a Predator teach us that sites like MySpace, Facebook, and AOL are essentially the homepages of child predators looking to snag some underage ass? Parents were taught to be scared of the Internet, install blocking and monitoring software, and treat every email and instant message as if it would infect their offspring with a STD. But what if all that group think was mostly wrong?

Though we take most studies with a grain of salt, we also take nationwide overreacting with an equal pinch.

A task force created by 49 state attorneys general to look into sexual solicitation of children online has concluded that there is not a significant problem.

The findings ran counter to popular perceptions of online dangers as reinforced by depictions in the news media like NBC’s “To Catch a Predator” series and are the latest study to suggest that concerns about the Internet and sex abuse against children are overblown. Ina an article last February in American Psychologist, the journal of the American Psychological Association, researchers concluded that most allegatiosn about the Internet and sexual abuse were myths.

The Internet Safety Technical Task Force examined the extent of the threats children face on social networks like MySpace and Facebook, amid widespread fears that adults were using these popular Web sites to deceive and prey on children.

But the report cited research calling such fears a “moral panic,” and concluded that the problem of bullying among children, both online and offline, poses a far more serious challenge than the sexual solicitation of minors by adults. [McClatchy]

Oh no. Don’t put Perverted Justice out of business!