Thursday, August 09, 2007

Kids Online: A Survey

Everybody knows that the Internet is jam-packed with adult predators trying to meet innocent children and take advantage of them. Like, just watch "To Catch a Predator," in which week after week they lure a bunch of the dumbest no-good losers on the planet to a meeting with an underage kid who turns out to be the cops and a TV crew instead. It's every parent's nightmare, and the horror stories are out there.

But what is the real situation? How often does this sort of thing actually happen? The National School Boards Association, with Grunwald Associates LLC, conducted a survey to find out a little bit about what's actually going on with kids and the Internet.
Overall, an astonishing 96 percent of students with online access report that they have ever used any social networking technologies, such as chatting, text messaging, blogging and visiting online communities, such as Facebook, MySpace and services designed specifically for younger children, such as Webkins and the chat sections of CREATING & CONNECTING//Research and Guidelines on Online Social — and Educational — Networking

Ninety-sex percent -- that's basically all of them. I know my kids can hardly imagine a world where you're not instant-messaging with a half-dozen people at once, while you're fixing up your MySpace and watching TV ... oh, and texting on the cell-phone.

It was not so many years ago, when mine were in grade school, that the general situation was that the kids knew a lot more about computers than their teachers did. I don't think it's like that any more, but there's no doubt, they've grown up in this environment, the net is like air to them. We can't even imagine what that's like, being a kid in the Age of the Internet.

The survey finds that about a fifth of the kids are what they call "nonconformists." These are the ones who break the safety rules occasionally, and are more likely to be using other advanced and new technology; they are also seen by their peers as leaders.

There is a lot of information here about how schools are dealing with all this. For instance, most schools (69 percent) have student web site programs, and nearly all school districts assign homework that requires the Internet to complete. They also mostly have some rules about instant messaging and social networking on the school computers, and most require parents to sign some sort of agreement before their kids can go online at school.

But that's not really the stuff we worry about. There is a dark side out there -- how does that affect our kids?
  • One in five students (20 percent) say they have seen inappropriate pictures on social networking sites in the last three months; 11 percent of parents, referring to their own children over the last six months, concur.

  • Nearly one in five students (18 percent) say they have seen inappropriate language on social networking sites; 16 percent of parents concur.

  • Personally directed incidents, which are of serious concern to students, parents and educators, are relatively rare. About one in 14 students (7 percent) say someone has asked them for information about their personal identity on a social networking site; 6 percent of parents concur. About one in 14 students (7 percent) say they’ve experienced selfdefined cyberbullying; 5 percent of parents concur. About one in 25 students (4 percent) say they’ve had conversations on social networking sites that made them uncomfortable; 3 percent of parents concur. Fewer than one in 30 students (3 percent) say unwelcome strangers have tried repeatedly to communicate with them online; 3 percent of parents concur. Only about one in 50 students (2 percent) say a stranger they met online tried to meet them in person; 2 percent of parents concur. Only .08 percent of all students say they’ve actually met someone in person from an online encounter without their parents’ permission.

I don't know, 0.08 percent -- that's nearly one kid in a thousand has gone to meet somebody in person without telling their parents. Sounds like a lot to me. But then, we're imagining some creepy adult, I think most of the time it's actually another kid.

The survey report ends up with a series of thought-provoking recommendations. Here are the section headings:
  • Consider using social networking for staff communications and professional development.
  • Find ways to harness the educational value of social networking.
  • Ensure equitable access.
  • Pay attention to the nonconformists.
  • Reexamine social networking policies.
  • Encourage social networking companies to increase educational value.

The lesson here is first, it isn't as bad out there as you might think. Yeah the kids are online day and night, but mostly, remember, they're talking to each other. Second, these researchers suggest that adults can learn from the students as well as trying to direct them away from danger. This new technology catches on among the young first -- it is very interesting that they conclude that schools should use these techniques for their own communications and staff development.

Third, these "nonconformists" are an interesting breed. They are well-adjusted, smart, popular, technically savvy -- and their grades are mediocre to bad. They get more out of the social world of the Internet than they do from traditional academics. These are the young people who will be the leaders in ten or twenty years, we ought to make sure we don't lose them by restricting them and restraining them in ways that only make sense if you're a paranoid, ignorant, and old-fashioned grown-up. We need to keep them in the system, learning, going on to college and maybe beyond, these are the exact kids you want to succeed in life. They're the ones who take the risks; yeah, that scares us, they're doing things we can't comprehend, but we need to capitalize on that impetuous energy and turn it into something positive.

I suggest you click on that link and browse through that interesting document. It's about twelve pages of solid information, something all parents should be keeping an eye on.


Anonymous joltin' joe said...

Hey, guys:

The Democratic candidate for President held a gay debate last night and, it turns out, most of them think gay marriage is a baaaaaaaaaaaad idea.

August 10, 2007 11:23 AM  
Blogger tomala said...


You watched the debate? How was it? I was taking my family to dinner and bookshopping.

BTW, dear friends, here's a fundraising email that PFOX sent out. Just amazing (I apologize for the long post):

PFOX reached a settlement this week with Arlington Public Schools in
Virginia to allow their 18,250 students access to PFOX literature.

After many months without a response to our requests, PFOX took legal
action in May with the support of the Christian Legal Society.

Now, students struggling with unwanted same-sex attraction and sexually
confused children will have the same access to PFOX information and
resources that supports their right to self-determination as materials
provided in schools by organizations like the pro-homosexual Parents and
Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).

After PFOX took legal action to protect students in Montgomery County,
Maryland, U.S. District Judge Alexander Williams Jr. ruled that the
Montgomery Public Schools' curriculum only disseminated "one-sided
information on a controversial topic" and the "moral rightness of the
homosexual lifestyle." Even the ACLU agreed that we were right to sue!

But Arlington and Montgomery are just the tip of the iceberg. Schools
right here in our nation's capitol are about to adopt a 'gay inclusive'
curriculum. One national gay-activist organization now proudly
reports that they have over 3,750 chapters in public schools around the

Please help us get the truth to children in our schools and make a
contribution today at Yes, outreach, support,
and protecting our children cost real money. You can make a

For any gift of $25 or more, we will send you our new report "What You
Don't Want to Know (That's Going on in Our Children's Schools Today)"
upon its completion.

Children who struggle with same-sex attraction and gender identity
disorder deserve the respect and support of our public schools-not
politically correct environments and curriculums that falsely and dangerously
teach children that the only choice is to embrace same-sex behavior.

PFOX has taken the national lead in combating curriculum bigotry and
politically correct schools pushing sexuality on our children.

Our successful legal efforts put social engineers in our public schools
on notice: PFOX will take action to fight "viewpoint discrimination"
posing as education and 'tolerance' programs.

Approaching our second decade, PFOX has set a goal of raising $1
Million over the next twelve months to take back our K-12 schools from
pro-gay activists pushing politicized curriculums. Pro-gay activists have
been left unchallenged to influence our schools for far too long!

But we need your financial help. Please help make a difference by
clicking on the donate button at the bottom of
and making a secure donation today.

How important is your help? Here is what ex-gay Kevin told us:

"I didn't realize it then, but I was being recruited...not to have
same-sex attractions, but rather to become gay.... Activists want to get
to those young boys who, at age 14, are struggling with sexual
confusion. They need to convince them that "gay is good", that they cannot
possibly change their attractions.

Now happily married in his thirties, Kevin realizes, "I feel somewhat
cheated today by the pro-gays. I was lied to. I was so much more than
my attractions. I no longer believe I was born that way,"

Thank-you for caring enough to help make a difference in the lives of
all the young Kevins and Karens in public schools across America.


Regina Griggs

PFOX Executive Director

P.S. Gay advocacy groups like PFLAG are being welcomed by the National
PTA into our schools while PFOX is not. Their literature tells our
children to decide that they are homosexual before they speak to their own
State Board of Education in Maryland says sexual diversity is "a civic

PFOX ranks among the nation's most efficient and effective non-profits
with support, education, and outreach programs. As a 501(c)(3)
non-profit organization, donations to PFOX are tax deductible. Please help
today at

August 10, 2007 1:34 PM  
Anonymous red tornado said...

"The Democratic candidate for President held a gay debate last night and, it turns out, most of them think gay marriage is a baaaaaaaaaaaad idea."

I didn't know that. I guess Democrats are just hateful bigots.

At least with Republicans, you know you're getting the straight story.

Go, Rudy!

August 10, 2007 1:39 PM  
Anonymous joltin' joe said...

"Homosexuality was the most polarizing issue in recent study.

A new survey from a university in New York suggests candidates for the presidency are not helped by endorsements from groups that push the homosexual agenda. The backing loses the politicians three times as many votes as it attracts.

The polling was conducted in three of the most important swing states in the nation. Peter Brown, assistant director of the Polling Institute at Quinnipiac University, said their selections were Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

He called them the "three most important states in a presidential election. Because no one has won the White House since 1964 that had not carried two of those three states."

The survey asked voters how they'd be affected by endorsements from six types of special-interest groups.

"Four of the six groups have pretty solid negatives… backlash! "

The Backlash Award went to gay-activist groups.

Peter LaBarbera, president of Americans for Truth, noted The Washington Post got it backward in a headline.

"The headline said that gay endorsements had scant impact on U.S. voters, but according to the poll, the homosexual issue was the most polarizing of all the issues discussed," he said.

In Ohio for instance, endorsement by a gay-rights organization would cause more than one-third of voters to be less likely to vote for that candidate. Why the disconnect between the headlines and the data?

"The media are always trying to stigmatize the so-called Religious Right, while they do everything they can to protect and glamorize the gay-rights movement," LaBarbera said.

In fact, endorsements by Christian conservative groups pretty much broke even as to whether it would be a positive or a negative in voters' minds.

Besides gay-activist organizations, groups included in the survey were those supporting gun rights, abortion rights and business. Endorsements from those were considered to be negative by voters. The only two on the positive side were Christian conservatives and labor organizations."

August 10, 2007 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not one commenter has voiced any concern about adult predators stalking kids on line. I'd like to say that even though this rarely happens, if it happens just once it's too much. Facebook, My Space, and lots of others are very popular among teens. Thanks for this very useful information so we can be even more vigilant parents, Jim.

The commenters on this thread talk about right wing fundraising for PFOX, a group that wants to force gay teens into the closet until they hurt their families like Ted Haggard did. I don't think it's right to pretend to be something you are not. Honesty is always the best policy. Always.

And the commenters also want to talk about a single poll's results.

Homosexuality was the most polarizing issue in recent study.

Thanks again JJ for posting that trash here so everybody can compare theocratic lobbyists' spin to the facts.

Here's how Quinnipiac University presents its poll findings, far from the fog of the Christianist lobbyists over at Focus on the Family Action.

August 8, 2007 - Clinton Leads Or Ties In Three Swing States

New York Sen. Hillary Clinton has inched ahead of her top Republican foe, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in Florida and Pennsylvania, and ties Giuliani in Ohio, her best showing so far in the three states as many voters re-evaluate their previous negative impression of her, according to Quinnipiac University's Swing State Poll, three simultaneous surveys of voters in states that have been pivotal in presidential elections since 1964.

Sen. Clinton has increased her substantial Democratic primary lead over Illinois Sen. Barack Obama to 25 points in Ohio, 16 points in Pennsylvania and 30 points in Florida, the first big state to hold a primary, scheduled for January 29, 2008, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. Giuliani is treading water in the Republican primary, holding leads over Arizona Sen. John McCain or former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson of seven points in Florida, 18 points in Ohio and 13 points in Pennsylvania.

Head to head matchups show:

Florida - Clinton tops Giuliani 46 - 44 percent, flipping a 46 - 44 percent Giuliani lead July 23;

Ohio - Clinton ties Giuliani 43 - 43 percent, compared to a 44 - 42 percent Clinton lead July 12;

Pennsylvania - Clinton edges Giuliani 45 - 44 percent, compared to a 45 - 45 percent tie June 27.

"Sen. Clinton is inching ahead. Not only does she lead by a nose in two of the most important swing states in the Electoral College, but she is turning around independent and Republican voters who previously viewed her negatively," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute...

On the eve of the first debate for the Democratic candidates before homosexual rights activists, the poll shows backing from gay rights groups has no effect on most voters. But among the roughly 40 percent who say it might have an impact on their decision, support of a gay rights group, depending on the state, turns off from two to almost four times as many voters as it attracts. On a net basis it makes more independents less likely to vote for such a candidate.

Endorsements from business groups and abortion rights groups also make voters less likely than more likely to back a candidate. The backing of labor groups is a big plus for candidates...

Special Interest Endorsements

In an effort to see the potential political advantages and liabilities of endorsements from various interest groups, voters were asked whether the backing of abortion rights groups, business groups, Christian conservatives, gay rights groups, gun rights groups and labor groups made them more likely or less likely to support a candidate. For a plurality of voters, these endorsements don't affect their decisions.

In Ohio, 10 percent say the endorsement of a gay rights group would make them more likely to support a candidate while 34 percent say less likely and 54 percent say it would make no difference. In Pennsylvania, 11 percent say it would make them more likely, with 28 percent saying less likely and 59 percent saying it would make no difference. Among Florida voters, 10 percent say more likely, while 28 percent are less likely and 60 percent say it would make no difference.

Conversely, a labor endorsement is the biggest plus, although its support is more useful in Ohio and Pennsylvania than it is in Florida. But a business group endorsement is a negative. The backing of abortion rights groups is also an overall negative in all three states.

The backing of conservative Christian groups is a plus in Ohio, a negative in Florida and a virtual wash in Pennsylvania.

"Being perceived as the candidate of gay rights turns off more voters than it attracts, although in general being considered the candidate of a special interest group seems to be a political loser overall," said Brown.

August 10, 2007 5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen this ?
Study shows virginity linked to IQ scores.

So much could be said here, one thing is for sure the TTF's aren't on the high half of the curve !

Smart teenagers are less likely to have sex.

Ok, is this because
1) they realize it is wise to wait
2) they have a sufficiently high IQ that they are able to restrain themselves contrary to Jim's belief that is just not possible.
3) they are more focused on their academic activities and not as social.

Comments ?
I for one think this points to the need for remedial class on abstinence and its benefit presented at a lower IQ level (90-110) for all the kids that don't immediately grasp the concept.


August 11, 2007 11:00 AM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

Another half truth, Theresa?

The study also reports "The studies show that female and male adolescents with an IQ score either below 70 or above 110 are more likely to be virgins." In other words, not only is higher than average IQ correlated to virginity; lower than average IQ is correlated to virginity too.

August 11, 2007 11:28 AM  
Anonymous Jor-el said...

"In other words, not only is higher than average IQ correlated to virginity; lower than average IQ is correlated to virginity too."

Come on , Beatrix. You are perfectly aware the reason for below 70 number is difficulty in finding a partner.

August 11, 2007 11:51 AM  
Blogger JimK said...

This is a very strange argument that Theresa makes. She acts as if we would be surprised or defensive about the finding that smarter kids are abstinent. It makes sense to remain abstinent as a teenager, it is the intelligent thing to do, why would that in any way challenge our position? It's great that some teens have the ability to see their own lives in perspective, and the self-control to make responsible decisions through their adolescent years.

Assuming this fact is accurate (and Aunt Bea's point suggests it's not), it is still meaningless, as far as determining educational policies. What are you going to do, make kids smarter? No, the fact is -- IQ is innate. It's nice to be able to somewhat identify the problem group, but other than that the fact that smart kids act smart contributes nothing to the debate.


August 11, 2007 12:41 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I would argue that a lot of what is measured by standard IQ tests is not innate.


August 11, 2007 5:02 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

The study reports that 83 percent of math majors are virgins. What conclusions can we draw from this?

August 11, 2007 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obviously, it means that math ability is innate.

August 11, 2007 6:12 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

This thread is ridiculous. I've never known a sexy math major.

August 11, 2007 6:35 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

I was majoring in Math until I took Differential Topology.

August 12, 2007 8:19 PM  
Blogger Dana Beyer, M.D. said...

You make my point!

August 16, 2007 7:42 AM  

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