Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Sept. 28, 2012

A Different Conversation on Internet Safety

Project Manager, Family Online Safety Institute

There is an expression in the legal field that goes something like this, “If you have good facts, pound the facts. If you have good law, pound the law. If don’t have either, pound the podium.” Essentially, what this means is, accentuate your strength to the judge and jury and if your case doesn’t have a strength, be loud and passionate about your position. 

As a lawyer, I saw my share of podium pounding, but as an Internet safety advocate, I see too much of the opposite. 

We are armed with great facts and research, but our podium is far too silent. We can “pound the facts” by highlighting the incredible stories about youth, parents and schools using technology to do good. Just take a look at our Facebook page and you will see numerous examples of families and schools using technology to enhance the classroom, spread kindness, volunteer, raise money for social causes, encourage corporate responsibility and make scientific discoveries. 

We can “pound the law” by highlighting all of the evidence-based research to demonstrate that kids today have overwhelmingly positive experiences online, and that they are doing more to ensure that they exercise responsible use of technology and digital citizenship skills. Want to learn more about this? As a starter, take a look at a paper we recently published to dispel some of the anxiety-producing myths about technology with research-based evidence. 

Despite all of the good news, the podium has been consumed by fear-based messaging that is encouraging parents to wring their hands in worry about the digital environment. This message inhibits families and schools from maximizing the opportunities that could be achieved. 

A Platform for Good (PfG) is a new program launched by the Family Online Safety Institute and our partners, to provide a virtual podium to showcase great opportunities, resources and information for families and educators to connect, share and do good. We hope that PfG will: 

  1. Help allay adult anxieties about the online world and provide information about the opportunities and benefits that come with practicing responsible digital citizenship; 
  2. Provide comfort and inspiration to the vast majority of teens who do not engage in negative behaviors by letting them know that they are in the majority and that the negative stories that are so prevalent in the news are the outliers, not the norm; and 
  3. Be a single source for information and resources for parents, youth and schools looking to learn more about using technology for good. 

As we build A Platform for Good, we want to create a conversation among parents, youth and educators. Please join us to help make PfG an interactive experience. Comment and share our blogs, take our polls, enter our sweepstakes and download our videos. And, if there are topics you want to learn more about, let us know! We have only just begun and will be bringing more features to PfG over the next months – building a podium where we can all stand, pound and do great things.

Images via Flickr