My friends Anne Collier and Larry Magid, two of America's leading experts on Internet safety matters, have just released a terrific new "Online Safety 3.0" manifesto. Anne is the editor of Net Family News, Larry pens the "Safe and Secure" blog for CNet News, and together they run ConnectSafely.org. Everything they do is must-reading for those of us who cover and care about the intersection of online child safety and free speech issues. [Disclosure: I am currently serving along with Anne and Larry on the new, government-appointed Online Safety Technology Working Group.]
In their new "Online Safety 3.0" essay, Anne and Larry argue that:
Both the Internet and the way young people use technology are constantly changing, but Internet safety messages change very slowly if at all. A few years ago, some of us in the Net safety community started talking about how to adjust our messaging for the much more interactive "Web 2.0." And we did so, based on the latest research as it emerged. But even those messages are starting to get a bit stale.
Their "Version 3.0" for online safety refocuses the discussion on "the positive reasons for safe use of social technology." They want to"enable youth enrichment and empowerment. Its main components -- new media literacy and digital citizenship - are both protective and enabling." They argue that "promoting critical thinking, mindful producing, and the ethics, responsibilities and rights of citizenship" is "empowering because it's protective. This is protection that lasts a lifetime." Amen to that.
What I like best about Anne and Larry's approach is that is fundamentally optimistic. Whereas so many supposed child safety experts talk down to both parents and kids and seem to suggest that both are completely oblivious to the world around them, Anne and Larry have a very different worldview and approach. They are positive about the potential of both parents and kids to take on new challenges and make the best of the new technologies they have at their disposal, even if there are some bumps along the way. The other thing I love about Anne and Larry is that they have done more than any two journalists I know to debunk the "technopanic" hysteria that others in the media world have propagated over the past 15 years.
Anyway, make sure to read their "Online Safety 3.0" manifesto. Best thing I've seen on the subject in a long time.