New Generation Youths: Online And Unprotected

The risks that the new generation youths face online today are high. Social networking websites are fishing in more teenagers to expand their membership database. They are actively promoting themselves as a great place to meet new friends. Nonetheless, being young and naive have caused the children to make precarious decisions such as meeting the virtual friends in real life. What they do not realize is that those friends are actually strangers, some with their harmful hidden agendas concealed by a nice and friendly profile layout.

The number of sexual offences committed online has risen. Sexual predators utilize the Internet to seduce and lure innocent children to satisfy their lust and sexual desires. Most of them gained the trusts of their victims before exploiting them. Social networking websites are working hard to prevent sexual offenders from preying on their younger members. For instance, MySpace had made site-design and policy changes that included acknowledging consumer reports of abuse within twenty-four hours, allowing parents to submit children's email addresses to the site for blocking and automatically making a greater number of profiles private. MySpace also employs technology from Sentinel Tech Holding to eliminate child predators who set up profiles in their own names.

However, despite all the efforts by the social networking websites to protect youths online, they are still exposed to an array of dangers online such as bullying and sexual predation. The reason being is simple: it is getting harder for parents to monitor their children's online activities. Parents play an integral role in making sure their children are safe while surfing the Internet. Constant monitoring is crucial to ensure that their children do not fall in the traps of online dangers such as by preventing them from sharing their personal contact information.

As technology advances, things are getting more complicated for parents to fulfill their duties online. For example, in the case of Facebook, sexual predators can befriend the children online, gain their trust and ask for their contact information via Facebook Chat. They can easily avoid all the privacy tools set by the children's parents. Besides that, social networking websites are also going mobile making it even much more difficult for parents to consistently monitor their children's online activities.

For the record, below are links of stories regarding sexual offences committed by criminals who utilized social networking websites such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo:

Police: Man Used MySpace To Lure Child For Sex

MySpace tryst leads to charges for Catawba man

Social websites lure youngsters into gangs

La Crosse Teen Pleads Guilty in MySpace Nude Pictures Case

Police: Man Met, Assaulted Girl On Facebook

As you can see, the danger is real and teenagers are vulnerable online. So is there a solution to the problem? Yes, in my opinion, education combined with parental intervention is the best solution. Parents need to be taught the new systems and policies that social networking websites adopt. I believe some parents are still unaware of the new rules implemented by social networking websites to protect their kids. Parents should also be educated to effectively monitor the online activities of their children. They may need to extend their surveillance over mobile phones with Internet access, beyond the computers at home.

The only people that stand between our youths and online sex predators or bullies are their parents. They can easily recognize a fishy situation and avoid trouble. The new generation youths are exposed to many online social networking outlets as the Internet is introduced in the early stages of their lives and their naivety is often taken advantage of by irresponsible netizens. Parental intervention is therefore fundamental in order to make sure the kids remain protected online. Teenagers are still children.


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