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Good news about kids, technology, and risks

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Date posted: September 25, 2012

Although you’d never know it from news stories, multiple surveys have showed marked decreases in children’s exposure to violence and abuse, writes David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at University of New Hampshire on The Huffington Post. A new Bureau of Justice Statistics report is just the latest in a series pointing to favorable trends in child well being.

Dr. Finkelhor coined the term “juvenoia” to describe an exaggerated fear about youth vulnerability to social change and new technologies. We have this irrational fear of bad things happening to kids that is simply not supported by the data. While there are risks in digital spaces, Finkelhor says, “it is easy for people to jump beyond the evidence base when they assert, not just that there are risks, but that the Internet is a risk-promoting environment or a specially risky environment.”

Available research gives us reason to be much more hopeful and considerably less fearful about kids and digital technologies. The way we approach internet safety education and the way we design curricula and learning materials should take this into account, but too many still dwell on fear-based messaging.

Digital citizenship, with its holistic view and focus on positive messages of appropriate behaviors and attitudes is much more attuned to what the research and the work of Finkelhor and others tells us. Learn more about digital citizenship here.