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Internet safety: Teenagers are well aware of dangers online

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Amanda Cowan/The Corvallis Gazette-Times/AP

(Read caption) Internet safety education has made teenagers paranoid about online dangers, a recent study says. Here, Crescent Valley High School senior Margaret Hyde, right, helps make game cards for a paper version of the computer game she is creating with classmates including Fauzi Kliman, left, in April 2012 in Corvallis, Ore.

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Now for the good news in the youth part of Ottawa-based MediaSmarts’s report “Talking to Youth and Parents about Life Online." (I previously highlighted the parents' section.) Well, mostly good news. It sounds as if “Internet safety education” has made the youngest among the 11-to-17-year-olds that MediaSmarts talked with pretty paranoid: “From (11- and 12-year-olds') perspective, the Internet is a very dangerous place. They told us that sharing any information put them at risk of being kidnapped, assaulted by a stranger, and stalked.” (This misinformation is called education?)

And how sad, because – even though “they demonstrated strong resilience when it came to dealing with both offensive content and unwanted conversations with strangers … clicked out of offensive sites, (and) knew not to talk to strangers” – they had been taught all this was necessary because “people were not trustworthy,” they told MediaSmarts.

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