ODT on Cybersafety

The ODT has a useful editorial on the issue of cybersafety:

Arguably, no single innovation has changed the shape of modern life quite as much.

The Internet is one of the most remarkable “inventions” of our times.

It has altered utterly the possibilities for, and nature of, communication, that most basic of human interactions.

And it has changed it at all levels of society: in academia, in the military, in business, in politics, in finance, in the media, and in education.

Few, if any, realms of endeavour are untouched by it.

I try to think sometimes if any other invention has changed the world as much as the Internet. Maybe fire? Or the printing press?

Both major political parties, Labour and National, appear to see it as critical to economic growth and international competitiveness.

Indeed, but with somewhat different approaches.

But like any new technology, especially one so ubiquitous in its applications, it brings with it a host of “issues”.

Many of these arise in the social arena, a fact underlined by the Queenstown conference: “Cybercitizens: Risks, Rights and Responsibilities of Participation in the Information Age”.

Cyberbullying, cybersafety, social networking, child pornography and online grooming were all officially or unofficially on the agenda.

is to be congratulated for raising awareness of attendant Internet “problems”, many of which are becoming all too real: a conference report in this newspaper on Thursday canvassed the matter of “complicit victims” – children as young as 12 actively seeking sexual contact with adults on the Internet with little idea of the consequences of their actions.

Netsafe do a wonderful job in this area, and unlike some other bodies have a very balanced approach.

Research in the United States showed 55% of people valued their online communities as much as their offline – or real-life – interactions.

Shocking though this may seem, it is fast becoming a reality that an older less “wired” generation must learn to accept, while helping to devise safeguards that will assist their children to negotiate the vast repository of unsuitable, potentially damaging, or downright dangerous material that is perennially a mouse click or two away.

All the best advice appears to be that imposing blanket bans is ineffective and counterproductive.

They are indeed both ineffective and often counterproductive.

Because, like it or not, the Internet is now part of the fabric of all our lives.

It has changed the nature of communication, and it is changing the nature of society.

Indeed. How did we survive before blogs? 🙂

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