Posted by Linda W. Braun
Last week My Space announced that beginning May 1 they will have a Security Officer on staff. The job was given to Hemanshu Nigam – formerly of Microsoft and the U.S. Justice Department.
This hiring coincides with an advertising campaign My Space is initiating along with The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and others, to educate about the possible dangers of online community.
Ever since I heard about the hiring of a security officer at My Space I’ve been thinking about the balance adults need to help teenagers reach. I’m talking about the balance between the ability to feel empowered to make choices (and sometimes bad choices) and the need to keep teenagers safe from the dangers the online world potentially brings.
I’m not sure a security officer and public service announcements is the way to go in order to strike this balance. It’s very similar to tactics used for other areas in which teens must make decisions that relate to their health and safety – drugs and cigarettes come to mind. Do statistics show that the PSAs teens see and hear help them to make smart decisions in these areas?
Of course the people teens trust in their lives really have the key to helping make good decisions. These include:
- Trusted librarians who listen to what teens have to say about their use of the technology before making judgments.
- Trusted librarians that are willing to test out the technology before jumping to conclusions.
- Trusted librarians who advocate for teens and their use of technology.
- Trusted librarians who think about how technology supports teen developmental assets and see technology use as more than passive entertainment.
These librarians perhaps help teens to make good choices better than a security officer or PSAs ever can.
Before the ad campaign and the security officer go to work I hope the people involved don’t make assumptions about teens.
- They need to know that teens have the ability to reason and make good decisions.
- They need to know that teens don’t automatically go to the dark side just because they are teens.
- They need to know that teens often know the rules of Internet safety and know how far they can go in order to remain safe.
A picture of a teen on My Space does not automatically mean that the teen who posted the image is going to decide to rendezvous with the next anonymous stranger she meets at the site.
If you haven’t heard about My Space enough at this point – it sure is in the news a lot these days. There was an interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times about how the online community is going to be connecting with and displaying advertising on the site.