I have always enjoyed and admired David Pogue's tech journalism at The New York Times, but I was disturbed by his recent piece "How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children?" which I believe dangerously minimizes the seriousness of the challenges that online life poses for families.
Pogue sets out to write a corrective narrative to what he perceives as a media-overhyped fear of online pedophiles luring children out of their homes, but in the process he discounts other reasonable concerns. The resulting commentary overreacts to the overreactions.
He talks about a mother becoming "hysterical when her 8-year-old stumbled onto a pornographic photo," and reassures us that his 7-year-old was not harmed by accidentally finding doctored "naked" photos of the animated characters The Incredibles.
"Naked pictures" covers a lot of ground, from a National Geographic photo to hard-core pornography. The type of image, extent of exposure, and intent are all relevant in deciding how harmful the experience has been. Pogue's example is not necessarily typical. As I have reported previously, I have spoken to several families whose young sons have been shown explicit, violent pornography by their 8-year-old peers. This was an incredibly upsetting experience for everyone involved.
Additionally, molesters use pornography and exposure to sexuality in many forms, including explicit online conversations, to desensitize and groom their victims.… Read more