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Berkman Led Task Force Finds Internet Not as Dangerous for Children as Many Think

A major report released today from the Berkman led Internet Safety Technical Task Force shows that online predators are not the major threat to children that conventional wisdom would lead us to believe. While Berkman led the year long effort, the task force was actually composed of a phenomenal group of stakeholders including leading researchers in the field like John Palfrey, Dena Sacco, and Danah Boyd, a number of leading Internet companies including Facebook, MySpace, Microsoft, and Semantec, and several nonprofits working to keep children safe online. The task force was created at the request of 49 state attorneys general. Another interesting finding is that online bullying is probably the biggest threat to children online. For those minors that do fall victim to sexual predators via the Internet, the report states that it is not the Internet that is primarily to blame, since those youth are often already at risk due to a number of other “real world” factor like difficult home environments or substance abuse. According to the report, the best way to improve child safety on the Net is not necessarily a single ‘silver bullet’ technical solution, but instead continued education for kids on how to safely use the Internet and the involvement of parents in decisions about how their children use the Internet and the sites they visit. You can download the executive summary here, and the full report here.

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