The Real Truth About Teens and Online Social Networks

For the past few years I have been educating students, teachers, administrators and parents about the “realities” of online social networks (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc). For the past few years, I have been wrong. Well, somewhat wrong, anyway. At the encouragement of law enforcement, the media, and other responsible adults, I have feared for the safety of the young women I educate. I was concerned that the details they were sharing online put them at risk for predation and victimization. My main concern was never really their physical safety, as that was such a minute possibility. I was mainly concerned about their futures, their college admissions, their job opportunities, but mainly, the possible humiliation they faced by the wrong people viewing their profiles. In that way, I was right.

Last week, before Congress, the four foremost experts in the country testified to the reality of online youth victimization. Every law enforcement person I’ve heard, and most educators I’ve heard have been wrong. The truth, according to the experts: 1) teens who post information online are no more likely to be victims of sex crimes than those who don’t 2) of all the statuatory rape in the U.S. last year, 7% of victims met the perpetrators online, the rest offline 3) parent education does not work.

There are many more important facts pointed out, so watch the hour and twenty minute testimony. It is the most important professional development I have had in the last few years. I can’t recommend it any more strongly. Original video here, transcript here, or YouTube video below. A post to follow will be on what type of education we need to do for/with our students. Your suggestions would be much appreciated.

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arvind s. grover

I am a progressive educator, a podcaster (, a blogger, and dean of faculty of JK-11 school (building a high school) in New York City.