Strange Reactions To “Cyber” Safety

And a Picture, Too! (Via 2 Cents Worth.) David Walick posted about a well writen movie review – credited to a 12th grade girl (including her full name and picture). David somewhat cryptically posted that this confused him “in about seven different ways.”

The reaction I saw in the comments is what struck me as strange, though. Four comments prior to mine made this basic point:

Not a good idea from the cyber safety perspective: readers now have the girl’s name, face, area of residence, approximate age, and school district.

One made this point regarding the paper:

Extremely short sighted on the part of the newspaper. Acknowledging the author is one thing. Publishing a picture of a school-age girl is wrong. However, sports sections do it ALL THE TIME!

Personally, I’m glad the girl got credit for her article – and credit equivalent to an adult, complete with her picture next to her article. I don’t usually have such a strong reaction to something I read on a blog (or in blog comments for that matter), so I’m posting my response here, too:

I hope I’m not the only one who has a different take on this… first of all, she’s not 12. She’s a 12th grader, most likely 18 at this point in the year.

Secondly, if newspapers reporting on students using full names and pictures is so normal, why is it so bad online?

I think it’s downright weird that a bunch of cutting edge ed tech folks are so concerned about a picture in the paper.

Don’t we want kids to be able to enjoy their name and picture in the paper – and online? Aren’t we only extra careful about it because the percent of a percent of a percent (or whatever small chance it is) that somebody malicious will misuse the information? And aren’t we only more careful online because the nature of the medium lends itself to ever so slightly easier abuse?

Personally, and this is not the cyber safety presenter speaking now, I think the few malicious types are going to find who they want to find regardless of the medium and I think its too bad – no, a tragedy – that all of us feel like our students have to tip toe around the internet anonymously.

That being said, there is still a lot of room for helping kids learn to be safe online (and in the face-to-face world). I just think the reaction (in these comments) to the article David posted about is a bit sad. Of course, Mark Ahlness did say “given the current state of paranoia in the US” and maybe that’s the real problem.

I accept that I might be in the minority here, but I’m curious what others interested in “Cyber” safety might have to say on the subject… please leave a comment if you have anything to share.

5 Responses to “Strange Reactions To “Cyber” Safety”

  1. Quentin D'Souza Says:

    I blogged about this early last year:

    http://www.teachinghacks.com/2006/02/06/student-photos-on-the-www/

    Although, I found it a very interesting comparison with the Media. Mark – they do have Media Release forms. A kind of statement of understanding of how the image can be used – not knowing the situation and trying not to lump everyone together – did she?

  2. Tom Hoffman Says:

    I’m just not sure what about seeing a picture and a name and some bits of information about a kid is supposed to trigger in the imagined predator. What is the thought process supposed to be “Aha! A child! I have been looking for one of these, but didn’t know where to find one. With its name, I will easily lure it into my van.”

    I think in reality the origin in these rules are to prevent the kind of abduction that actually happens with some frequency — kids being abducted by an estranged parent or relative, which is a real concern and in some cases means that a strict level of privacy must be maintained. This original purpose has, unfortunately, been mixed in with the “to catch a predator” nonsense.

  3. Mark Wagner Says:

    Hey, Quentin… I’m just catching up on blog comments and wanted to say thanks for piping in on this discussion. It’s difficult not to jump to conclusions, but I think the example at least sparked some interesting discussion.

    -Mark

  4. Mark Wagner Says:

    Tom, I’m catching up on old comments to say thanks… and I particularly enjoyed your humorous take on this serious issue. It was nice to have you drop in. :)