NetFamilyNews, Enhancing Child Safety & Online Technologies: Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force just came out at the end of December.
The executive summary does a nice job of summarizing the threats to minors online, acknowledges that most of the studies done were undertaken prior to the rise of social networking sites like Facebook, and recommends not just a technological solution to safety issues, but a broad based approach to help keep kids safe and savvy. (I am thinking the group may have learned a lot from Anne Collier and dayna boyd who served on it.)
Read this report, but also read Anne Collier's NetFamilyNews post "Key crossroads for Net safety: ISTTF report released." She writes about how this report might change the too common, fear-based approach to Internet safety to one that is "fact-base." Yeah!
She also writes:
One of the researchers' most important findings - information really helpful to parents, finally - is that a child's psychosocial makeup and the conditions surrounding him are more important predictors of online risk than the technology he uses. Not every child is equally at risk of anything online, including predation. The research shows 1) only a tiny minority of online youth are at risk of sexual exploitation resulting from Net activity, and these are at-risk kids in "real life," and 2) online risk of all forms - inappropriate behavior, content or contact, by peers or adults - has been present through all phases of the Web and all interactive technologies kids use; it doesn't show up only in social-network sites. It's rooted in user behavior, not in crime.
As one local police officer lecturing on Internet safety once said rather bluntly, "I tell parents that if they don't tell their kids that they love them, their kids will find somebody online who will."
I am sharing both Anne's blog post and the executive summary of this report at a parents' Internet safety night our library media department is hosting tomorrow evening. I am hoping, but not expecting, the parents of those children who might be most at risk will attend.