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I do not see chatting on-line as being dangerous, or otherwise harmful.
Sure you always hear those stories about 12 year old girls chatting with 45 year old men, but I see online chatting as a way for people with similar interests to discuss and debate interesting topics. I strongly believe that if you chat online with people that you do not know personally, you should figure out what this person is really like, and if you can trust them or not.
It gives me a chance to stay in touch with my current friends, make new friends, meet interesting people, and find a group where I feel like I belong.
I chat to other people almost every night, or whenever I get the chance to.
Kids growing up now need to be aware of different dangers, ones involving formation of long-term relationships, questions about online identity, and trust.
I wasn't able to find any reliable statistics on how often children are victimized using the internet.
Knowledge is key, but kids are, as usual, embracing and understanding change, while bored Congressmen sit behind tables and listen to prepared speeches.
Last week, I contacted three students, ages 14 to 17, and asked them about their experiences chatting online.
The testimony and discussion was so removed from proposing new legislation, in fact, that Rep. He had to remind everyone twice that he and his colleague were "As a member of Congress, I would like to hear what recommendations you have for what we might do -- I haven't heard anything about that so far. And Kathleen Tucker of I-Safe suggested standardizing on "digital certificates," client-side certs issued by an authority which confirms your identity using proof ranging from photo ID up to DNA (! She squarely faced the problem of child predators, and quoted Judith Krug of the American Library Association's Office of Intellectual Freedom: children "need to be taught the skills to cope in the virtual world just as they are taught skills to cope in the physical world." Parents aren't there to watch over kids every minute.The House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet held a hearing in my home town yesterday: "Chatting On-Line: A Dangerous Proposition for Children." Six witnesses came to Kalamazoo, Michigan and described the perils of on-line chat to Rep. Personally, I like the idea of us, though some disagree. The most surprising and welcome news of the afternoon was that, despite the alarmist title, there was The hearing launched with Congressman Upton touting his internet record -- notably the domain, now us.Unfortunately, 0 is not a number that extrapolates well to estimate how many of the United States's 70 million children will be physically victimized with help from the internet.But if I understand the numbers, it seems the internet is not the most likely source of danger.