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The Anonymity of the Internet

Attempting to legislate the Internet will not work, as the Internet is global and covers areas where no single government's rule applies. The jurisdiction issues make the Internet a haven for fraudulent and illegal activity.

Child exploitation and the rise of Internet related crimes is increasing. Child exploitation has no boundaries; pedophiles exist in every socioeconomic, ethnic and religious community. Consider these statistics, 20% of children online are approached sexually online. 89% of those advances take place over instant messaging. Online predators prowl, rebellious teenagers are opportune targets, and shared personal details often make them become victims.

This further fuels the discussion of who is who. Are they really who they say they are, or claim to be? The Internet is far more complex and anonymity might in fact provide the protection that surfers are seeking.

The anonymity of the Internet is a cause for concern. Pedophiles hide behind the protection of anonymity, creating ideal profiles being exactly the friend that impressionable youngsters want them to be. The fact is that a child doesn't always know with whom they are interacting with. All of this makes education critically important.

Children, adolescents, and teens must realize and understand the risks associated with Internet activities and modify their personal habits in order to stay safe online. Sharing private information is just not acceptable. Parents must realize that the Internet is part of world in which our children are living, and as much as we would like to shelter them, it has become an integral part of their worlds. Much like the warnings that youngsters today grow up with about not talking to strangers, parents must redefine who strangers are, so that their children will accurately understand the online dangers. The critical element to staying safe online is to be educated and understand the very real risks associated with online surfing.

While remaining anonymous is part of the problem, on the Internet, it might actually be a protection. If Pedophiles can hide behind screen names and pseudonyms, why can't children? If an adolescent is participating in online communities, whether its for educational purposes or social entertainment, creating an anonymous identity will help shield their personal information. Personal information related to location should still not be shared but the additional layer, might help shelter the child from unwanted attention.

While anonymity is a protection for the children, it also allows them the freedom to be children. Today's employers often search the Internet for information about potential employees. Additionally colleges and private schools will often search a students history on the Internet prior to offering them admission. As children grow, their views and opinions often change. The Internet's timeless and endless archive of those opinions may no longer be an accurate reflection of who a child has become. Children who post anonymously can afford the luxury of being a child, without the evolution of their opinions being available in a searchable archive.

Anonymity on the Internet might be a tool to help keep children safe, while venturing into the global Internet.

For additional tips to keep children safe online see:

Security Port - http://www.security-port.com
Wired Kids - http://www.wiredkids.org

About the Author:
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage http://www.notepage.net a wireless text messaging software company.

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This article may be used freely in opt-in publications and websites, provided that the resource box is included and the links are active. A courtesy copy of the issue or a link to any online posting would be greatly appreciated send an email to sharon@notepage.net .

Additional articles available for publication available at http://www.small-business-software.net/free-website-content.htm

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