Friday, December 02, 2005

The blogging craze becoming dangerous?

Is blogging dangerous for younger participants? This question has come across "my desk," as they say, from many different sources. I have tried to avoid it on many occasions simply b/c I havent established my opinion on it yet but since its haunting me, I might as well get it out there in the open even if I dont have all of my loose ends tied up yet.

Recently a friend of mine shut down her blog to be an example to the teenage girls that she mentors. She felt that blogging and sites like Myspace and Xanga are becoming dangerous places when not used with the caution and wisdom that comes with maturity and age. Simply put, teenagers are giving out too much information on publicly accessible sites. From experience I know this is true b/c on my MySpace site, a youth from our church put her phone number in my comments section of the main page. She wanted me to call her but as soon as I saw it, I went and deleted it, in order to protect her from someone she doesnt know getting a hold of it. I couldnt believe that giving her phone number on a unsecured website, seemed like an ok thing to do. Then a week or so ago, 20/20 did a special on catching adult perpetrators online seeking to lure kids through chat rooms and eventually meet them for sexual molestation and such atrocities. I was appaled at what these people were doing. Good ol' Stone Phillips made them look ridiculous though when they arrived at a home and got a video camera in their faces instead of a young boy or girl to take advantage of. Then just the other day I got an email with an article attached to it entitled "Courting Danger Online-Teenagers and the Internet." Here are some of the statements taken from that article:

America's teenagers are growing up "with a mouse in one hand and a remote control in the other." The generation Microsoft founder Bill Gates calls "Generation E" has never known a time when information was not instantly accessible on the internet, or when communication was not available at warp speed through instant-messaging, e-mail, and Internet websites.

All this leads to new opportunities, and to new dangers. One of the latest challenges is the development of teenage blogging. Taking advantage of Internet websites such as MySpace, Facebook, and Xanga, many teenagers and college students are creating personal blogs, which are essentially online diaries accessible to the public. And anyone with a connection--including would-be predators--can have a front-row view of this once-secretive teenage passion play."

Teenagers are using blogs in unprecedented numbers. The Pew study estimates that at least four million teenagers now blog. What was once communicated through phone conversations is now handled by instant-messaging. The content once secreted in the pages of hand-written diaries is now out for public consumption, and often with intimate details and personal information.

In their own minds, they're sitting in their dorm room or at home, and they have a sense of privacy--and they really don't have it at all.

A sixteen-year-old girl in Port Washington, New York was molested by a man who had tracked her down because she had listed personal information on her MySpace profile. Many teenagers claim to understand the danger. Maybe so--but maybe not.

In general, teenagers are spending far too much time online and less time engaging in interaction with friends, parents, siblings, and other family members.

What are your thoughts? Post them in the comments section.


Bethany said...

OH MY GOSH!! I cannot even begin to describe my feelings on this issue. One one hand I think that the internet and computers have opened up amazing possibilites in so many avenues of life, but on the other, they are in many ways not only putting naive teens & young adults in danger, but they are quietly stealing away real intimacy with people and slowly replacing it with a false sense of connectedness. We must not shrink back and avoid the culture, but know where we stand and confront it head on!!

Kristine said...

This is the exact thing that originally stopped me from starting my own blog (now it's just no time!). I was worried that I would give out too much information about my personal life. And, like Bethany said in the comments, I think it would steal away from the time I spend calling a friend on the phone or writing a personal email. But I think knowledge of the problem is the first step, and by dealing with the issue in a mature way and not giving out too much information, a person can have an informative blog without getting too personal. It's just getting that point across to the teens.

Anonymous said...

Great thoughts. Intertersting enough, I stumbled upon your blog site via Radiante Mag. subscription site. Is it irony that the internet can creat community -- even if it be cyber-Community? Or just possibly we all truly are seeking community. The "young" seek it through blogging, as many of times past sought it through "cafe' & bar times" of poetry or journal reading, and so on. In any cany case, it exists so let's be the mentors and "examples" we were created to be. Such as one's who take numbers of "blog" sites in an end to "protect", "educate", "help", and as Nouwen might have said "nurture in graceful leadership".
Well, on another note. Blessings be with you and your family, and if you still have any "Naz" connections . . . my wife and I are Hurricane Relief Coordinators for Nazarene Disaster Relief and we are currently serving in the south.
Grace and peace from another one in the community,

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