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robertogreco : strangerdanger   7

‘Pokémon Go’ and the Persistent Myth of Stranger Danger — Pacific Standard
"For as long as we’ve had kids on the Internet, we’ve worried about adults with bad intentions luring them into an in-person meeting. If anyone can name a television crime procedural from the past 20 years that doesn’t feature the plotline, I’ll give them $10. “Parents and teachers today worry a lot about digital safety, in particular — and far more than young people do themselves,” write John Palfrey and Urs Gasser in the new, updated version of their book Born Digital: How Children Grow Up in a Digital Age. The book’s implied audience is adults who want a good explanation of kids from other adults, and safety is clearly a big concern, whether it’s reasonable or not. Citing a 2006 anecdote of an assault victim who’d been groomed on Myspace, the authors write: “Despite the absence of data to show that young people are at a greater risk in an Internet era, there is reason enough for young people to be very cautious about how much information they share.”

This expert perspective — both authors were at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society until Palfrey became head of school at Phillips Andover Academy — is the usual one when it comes to kids online. Somewhere between scholarship and a parenting manual, Born Digital manages somehow to be neither. “From an adult perspective,” Palfrey and Gasser write, “young people often divulge too much information about themselves online.” But despite this awareness of the limits of their perspective, the authors still aren’t able to think beyond their own point of view. As a result, they don’t display a very good understanding of youth risk-taking.

Take sexting, for example. The authors think it’s important to “develop approaches that include young people as problem-solvers” when it comes to sexting, but they also think they have the answer: “Sharing naked pictures of oneself, even on a service like Snapchat, which is supposedly ‘temporary,’ is not worth the risk of suffering public embarrassment, possibly having to register as a sex offender, and even potentially going to jail.” Palfrey and Gasser thinks it’s important to educate young people about Internet safety so that they make the right choices, like not meeting strangers or sending nudes.

I called up Jeffrey Temple, director of behavioral health and research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Texas Medical Branch (and a foremost authority on teenage sexting behavior), to check the data. Temple has authored or co-authored five studies on the actual practices of young sexters, and what he’s found doesn’t line up with the news. “Nothing ‘bad’ happens to the vast majority of those who sext,” he tells me. “There aren’t any legal complications, there aren’t any psycho-social consequences, anything like that.” There are risks of course, but a fully informed teen might reasonably decide to sext anyway. “The strongest correlate undoubtedly for teen sexting is a consensual sexual relationship,” Temple says. It’s important to remember, he tells me, that more teens are having actual sexual intercourse than are sexting.

Palfrey and Gasser write that sexting stories “rarely end well,” but the stories we hear are hardly representative of actual youth experiences. If two teens trade sexy pics and don’t share them with anyone else, we don’t hear about it. If a group of girls plan a mall meet-up with a grown Internet stranger just to gawk at him from the food court, their parents probably won’t find out, never mind the local cable affiliates. Combine scaremongering news reports and the fact that there’s no story when nothing bad happens, and we’re set up to be misled. If you look at the data, young people have a better sense of the risks they’re taking than commentators who base their thinking on the evening news.

When Palfrey and Gasser write about the absence of data to support the idea that Internet-era kids are at greater risk, they’re being a little disingenuous. They make it sound as though they looked everywhere and simply couldn’t find the statistics, when the truth is that all available data sets indicate that young Americans are increasingly safe from accidental and intentional victimization alike. The people who are most likely to violate children are known to them: Acquaintances, peers, and, yes, parents. Strangers only commit 1 to 10 percent of child abuse. Almost no one wants to harm children, and the ones who do tend to target kids close to them.



When Palfrey and Gasser write about the absence of data to support the idea that Internet-era kids are at greater risk, they’re being a little disingenuous. They make it sound as though they looked everywhere and simply couldn’t find the statistics, when the truth is that all available data sets indicate that young Americans are increasingly safe from accidental and intentional victimization alike. The people who are most likely to violate children are known to them: Acquaintances, peers, and, yes, parents. Strangers only commit 1 to 10 percent of child abuse. Almost no one wants to harm children, and the ones who do tend to target kids close to them.

From a parental or custodial perspective, Palfrey and Gasser write, it’s important that kids learn to manage risks — but the authors don’t ever acknowledge any apparent upside to particular instances of risky behavior: They aren’t so much interested in why a kid might decide to send a nude or chat with strangers or go hunting for a Flareon in an abandoned lot at three in the morning, as in how to convince them not to. Even looking at his own data, Temple stresses to me that, as the father of a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old, he doesn’t want to give the impression that underage sexting is “OK.” But, I ask him, is it fair to say that most teens who sext are OK? “Yes, most kids who sext are OK.”

It’s fine for parents and adult authorities to have a risk-averse perspective when it comes to youth behavior — nobody really wants too-cool parents with boundary issues. But adults also shouldn’t confuse paranoia with fact, which is easy to do when there aren’t many teen pundits around to explain what’s going on from their perspective. Sexual exploration is a valid and important part of healthy development. Going outside and talking to strangers is a valid and important part of healthy development. Kids assert their own judgment, they do it online and in real life at the same time, and they are, by and large, pretty good at it.

It’s OK, too, that adults aren’t the best at assessing risky youth behavior, especially on the Internet — kids are the ones who have to make those judgments for themselves. It only becomes a problem when adults want it both ways: when they want kids to learn decision-making, but also to automatically avoid unnecessary risks. But learning to navigate unnecessary risks is, well, necessary.

I started thinking about Pokémon and safety after I saw one of many viral tweets about interacting with kids who were playing the game. Lisa McKinley tweeted, “A little boy in my neighborhood just knocked on our door and said ‘sorry to bother you, but there’s a Pokémon in your house and I need it.’” She — “of course!” — let him in. This stuck with me because the skills a kid needs to ask their neighbor for Pokémon are not so different from the skills a boy named JaJuan needed to stay safe when his mother Shetamia Taylor was hit in the crossfire at the Dallas Black Lives Matter march. Separated from his mom, JaJuan found Angie Wisner, a stranger. Wisner told NBC that JaJuan bumped into her and asked “Ma’am can I come with you because I lost my mama?” Wisner said the same thing as McKinley, the same thing most adult strangers say when kids ask for their help: “Of course.”

In a parental nightmare scenario, Taylor was able to keep her son safe. JaJuan was prepared to handle an emergency on his own, even if that just meant finding a trustworthy stranger and asking for help. There are consequences to never taking unnecessary risks, and it’s dangerous not to let children talk to strangers, even if a parent’s risk-averse impulse might be to say, “Stop bothering that man, he hasn’t seen any Jigglypuffs!” Maybe the kid’s right. Maybe the stranger can help."
2016  malcolmharris  pokemongo  strangerdanger  risktaking  teens  children  youth  johnpalfrey  ursgasser  snapchat  sexting  paranoia  dange  safety  parenting  uber  internet  web  online  data  pokémongo 
july 2016 by robertogreco
The Perils of "Stranger Danger" | On Being
"One of the first lessons many of us learn as children is “Don’t talk to strangers.” Not “don’t get into a car with strangers” or “don’t let strangers into your house,” but “don’t talk to strangers.”

As a parent of two young children, I’m sure I’ve said it myself without giving much thought to what I was actually asking of them. Do I really want them to heed that advice? Taken literally, not talking to a stranger means not saying “Hello” or “Happy Holidays.” It means not making eye contact or smiling, body language that could lead to a conversation. It’s the kind of advice that has led us to a place where two people standing in an elevator less than three feet apart will look everywhere but at each other.

We like to say it takes a village, but we’re scared to death of the villagers. And so we erect boundaries around our children and get incensed if people cross them. Scold someone else’s child at your own peril, and keep your unsolicited parenting advice to yourself. The message to our fellow citizens is clear: hands off my child."



"Years ago, a friend of mine took a trip to the Caribbean island of Barbados. She had just boarded a packed city bus when she felt a tugging on her purse. Her fight response kicked into gear; clearly, she was being robbed. She tugged back hard, then saw that the “thief” was a woman in the seat right next to her. On the buses in Barbados, apparently, it is not uncommon for those seated to hold the bags of the people standing, thus relieving their load.

Of course, sometimes you really are being robbed, and some people actually are scary — though it’s worth mentioning that most crimes involving children are committed not by strangers but by people known to the family, and violent crime has plunged in the last few decades.

Teaching kids how to be careful and to exercise intuition when dealing with strangers is essential. But hanging a "no trespassing" sign around their necks only increases our, and their, sense of fear and isolation. Distance is not always safety. Indeed, the opposite might well be true. Americans are lonelier and more depressed than ever before. For the better part of a decade, suicide rates among young people have been steadily increasing. Perhaps now more than ever, we need to cherish every scrap of authentic human connection that comes our way.

So this year I resolve to be a little less cautious instead of more. Rather than bemoan my lack of a village, as I often do, I will take a long, hard look at the boundaries that I put up, and what those boundaries signal to the world. The rewards of letting people in — like watching a perfect stranger enchant my little one with Spanish nursery rhymes or serenade her in Punjabi — are too good to miss."
stangers  strangerdanger  parenting  2016  rikhasharmarani  caution  fear  children  isolation  society  anxiety  onbeing 
february 2016 by robertogreco
The Unexpected Benefits of Talking to Strangers · Wanderlust
"Growing up, our parents imparted us with sage advice: “Don’t talk to strangers.” They had the very best intentions and were warning us against certain kinds of situations. But what if you took that message to heart a little too much?

In these days of seemingly endless divisions in our society, the pool of people we feel comfortable chatting up can diminish pretty quickly. What’s the pool of people that you are comfortable engaging with? Do you chat up the yogi on the mat next to you before class? What about your hairdresser? And your butcher? When was the last time you had a connection with the person serving you your Starbucks Grande Extra Foam Whatever?

I’ve been contemplating this for quite some time. And, while I’ve never been accused of being a quiet girl, I’ve definitely noticed that there are some situations where I put my guard up by default. Head down, eyes glued to my smartphone, just waiting to move on to the next moment. Sound familiar? I’m willing to bet you’re all too acquainted with the iPhone defensive stance.

Here’s the thing: When we choose to spend moments in the coffee shop, the grocery store, or on the street just waiting for something more important to happen, we are giving up our consciousness practice and we’re playing small. Consider interactions you’ve had recently that left you feeling inspired. Chances are the person you were speaking with was looking you in the eyes and listening. Giving the gift of our attention to people that we know, and those we don’t, is not only generous, it empowers us as well as the person we are talking with.
Giving the gift of our attention to people that we know, and those we don’t, is not only generous, it empowers us as well as the person we are talking with.

I’ve been putting my theory into practice in the seemingly mundane moments of my life. I ask my butcher what they would be cooking tonight, and how they’d make it. I’ve discovered some great new ways to make steak for my man this way.

I ask the cashier at the grocery store what time she’s getting off work, and if she’s ever tried this particular raw coconut water (even if I think she’s never had, or heard of, raw coconut water before).

When I’m waiting in a long line, I exchange pleasantries with the person waiting ahead of me.

Some really beautiful shifts have been happening for me. I’m having pleasant little connections throughout my day, while I run my errands, while I wait for my coffee, when I’m walking down the street. Oftentimes I feel like someone else’s day was brightened because our exchange was a moment of validation for them, or just a nice way to spend a minute or two. I’ve been feeling more present and connected in these moments not only to other people, but to my own attention.

Where in your life are you missing connectivity? Where could you add more presence and acknowledge someone else with your attention?"
strangers  strangerdanger  attention  2015 
march 2015 by robertogreco
"Stranger Danger" to children vastly overstated - Boing Boing
"Oft-cited stats about child abduction puts kidnappers behind every bush. But the numbers are old and frequently mangled, distorting our understanding of genuine risks to children."



"People send Skenazy their stories and media clippings of law-enforcement overreactions, some of which bubble up to national coverage. (Skenazy writes for the libertarian publication Reason.) She cites an appeals court decision in January 2014 in New Jersey which upheld the conviction of a mother for leaving her 19-month-old child asleep in a car for 5 to 10 minutes while she shopped.

The judge writing for the appeals panel cited a variety of potential risks: "…on a hot day, the temperature inside a motor vehicle can quickly spike to dangerously high levels, just as it may rapidly and precipitously dip on a cold night."

But the day wasn't hot, it wasn't night, and the child was never in danger. The decision left open the potential for any parent to be criminally charged and convicted for leaving a child in a car up to the age of 17, as the appeals court provided no cut-off date nor other parameters. It also thought because the task wasn't urgent, that more imaginary danger should have been considered. "Because she wasn't fantasizing, she was guilty," says Skenazy.

Many states have laws that mandate the age at which a child may be left alone at home or in a car (and the duration, among other factors), or provide such broad guidance that even if it's within the law, a child could be put in foster care and a parent arrested.

In Texas, leaving a child under seven without someone 14 or over in a car for over five minutes, is a Class C misdemeanor ($500 fine, no jail time). Texas has no rules about the age at which a kid can be left at home alone, but its definition of "neglectful supervision" includes not just "bodily injury" but "substantial risk of immediate harm to the child." This leaves an awful lot of latitude for enforcement, which we've seen in practice errs towards worst first thinking.

Skenazy says there's secondary effect, too. Parents who might otherwise make sensible choices about their kids' capabilities must also factor in the worst first thinking of neighbors and strangers. "They imagine that the authorities are using that criteria when they are making a decision about your parenting," and that results in calls to protective services and the police for behavior that isn't dangerous or unreasonable.

While the legal side remains tricky, Skenazy says parents' attitudes can be changed. For her TV show, producers received submissions from 2,000 families and picked the most-anxious 13, including a mother who still spoon fed her older child and an 8-year-old only allowed to stand on a skateboard on his front lawn. Another couple accompanied their children next door to the kids' grandparents.

She spent a few afternoons with the kids without their parents, and they bloomed. But even better, "It changes the parents utterly, completely, and forever, once the kids do something on their own. What looked like bone-deep fear, that even I — I wondered why am I here and not a psychiatrist? It's socially imposed." This gives her hope."
strangers  strangerdanger  statistics  2015  children  parenting  fear  lenoreskenazy  caution  overcaution  joelbest  halloween  risks  glennfleishman 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Overprotected Kid - The Atlantic
"A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution."
children  parenting  risk  playgrounds  play  risktaking  safety  education  2014  helicopterparents  hanarosin  independence  strangers  strangerdanger  danger  exploration  helicopterparenting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Don't tell kids not to talk to strangers – encourage them to trust their instincts | Philippa Perry | Comment is free | theguardian.com
"Blanket injunctions to not talk to strangers are unrealistic and contradict what they see us doing, so consequently it won't be a rule they will be able to take all that seriously. Children tend to do what we do, not what we say. Sometimes how a child feels is inconvenient for us, but we must not be tempted to argue with what they feel or declare that they are silly for feeling it. If we invalidate their feelings and thus teach them to overrule them, we are endangering them.

I'm not saying we shouldn't contain their feelings or comfort them, nor am I saying our actions should be dictated by what they feel, I'm arguing that we need to acknowledge them and take them seriously.

It also helps children when we describe our own feelings. So, next time you've had enough of the playground, don't be tempted to say, an hour is long enough, time to do the shopping, so just five more minutes. Say instead, I'm cold and tired (if this is the case), so just five more minutes. Were we to behave manipulatively towards them, we should expect to be manipulated by them in turn. And if we deny our own feelings, we will not be doing them, or us, any favours."

[See also something from me a few years ago: "Eliminating the “Don’t talk to strangers” rule" http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/625745364/eliminating-the-dont-talk-to-strangers-rule ]
parenting  strangers  strangerdanger  2014  philippaperry  children  rules  fear 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Study shows parents' tech fears depend on politics, socioeconomic status, race.
"Overall, our findings suggest that parental concerns don’t seem to match up with their lived experiences when it comes to meeting a stranger and exposure to violent content. They are especially worried about the possibility that a stranger will hurt their child, reflecting the pervasive anxiety about online sexual predators. Yet while such encounters are extraordinarily rare, the potential consequences of such an encounter are unthinkable. Still, the salience of parental fear about strangers in our data raises significant questions. Are parents especially afraid of strangers because this risk is particularly horrific? Or does their fear stem from the pervasive stranger-danger moral panics that have targeted social media as culprits, leading to the false impression that they are more common than they are?

How parents incorporate concerns into their parenting practices affects their children’s activities and behavior, drives technological development in the online safety arena, and shapes public discourse and policy. When parents are afraid, they may restrict access to technologies in an effort to protect their children from perceived dangers. Yet the efficacy of such restrictions is unclear. If fear-driven protective measures do little to curtail actual risk, then these actions are doing a huge disservice to children, and by extension society as a whole. The internet is a part of contemporary public life.  Engagement with technology is key to helping youth understand the world around them.  

While differences in cultural experiences may help explain some of our findings about parental concerns regarding children’s online safety issues, the results raise serious questions. Are certain parents more concerned because they have a higher level of distrust for technology? Are they bothered because they feel as though there are fewer societal protections for their children? Is it that they feel less empowered as parents? We don’t know, as very little research has looked at these issues. Still, our findings challenge policy-makers to think about the diversity of perspectives their law-making should address."
internet  parenting  online  fear  children  teens  youth  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  strangers  strangerdanger  danahboyd  eszterhargittai  society  culture  technology  2013 
november 2013 by robertogreco

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