Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scary out there

So, I've always said, you can't shelter your kids from the world. To protect them, you have to stay with them, know where they're going, teach them how to protect themselves when they're not there. No child-safe internet blocker is ever going to work, because kids will find ways around everything.

They're kids. They're adaptive, and creative, and sneaky. It's what they do.

Things like this prove my point.

So, a friend commented on Facebook that she had to look up this thing she'd heard about called Chat Roulette. I, of course, tend to be curious about everything, and also, I have two adolescents therapy kids with whom I work closely (and, as I've discovered lately, I have to keep up with my 66 year old patient as well. But, I don't worry as much about her being preyed on. She's pretty sharp). Plus, I'm on the child unit, and headed into a child fellowship. I like to keep an eye on the landscape, know what's out there for them to get into.

The concept of this is kinda cool, right? You log on...well, not even that, because it's completely anonymous. You click a button, and you get matched up with a random stranger anywhere in the world. In one respect, this is awesome. I spent about 20 minutes wandering around, chatted briefly with some very nice people in France, and Australia, and elsewhere in the US. I talked for a bit with a nice man in China who's trying to improve his English. I got to use a little of my terrible French. The worst thing any of them said to me was that the one of the people in France told me I was old. I guess when you're 18... But in that aspect, it makes the world a little smaller, allows you to interact with people in other cultures, etc.

That, I recognize, is a tremendously idealistic view.

So, many of the people on this thing have webcams. I saw a lot of high school and college kids, who, yeah, kind of a vulnerable group. Especially considering some of the other things I managed to see on there. Wow. Not enough eye bleach in the world.

::sigh:: It's amazing. I'm guessing that wouldn't even be blocked at the hospital (whereas, you know, everything else is). The anonymity is superficially protective, but also disinhibiting. It perpetuates this idea that you can say or do or be anything you want, and not worry about it, when in fact you should worry about it quite a bit. Especially if your judgment isn't very good because, say, your frontal lobes aren't fully formed yet. There's no guarantee that the people on the site are over 16 (by clicking the button you agree that you're over 16. There isn't even a checky-box. Oh, yeah, that's gonna work...). Or aren't, say, serial killers and pedophiles. In fact, I'm guessing this would be a deviant Mecca in a way that Facebook or MySpace or any of the other sites we worry so much about never could.


Now, admittedly, I'm a hypervigilant, socially suspicious psychiatrist with a trauma history. But, seriously, folks. The shit that's out there is scary. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes--it is scarry-----and I have two granddaughters ---out there-----
There is no "safe answer or response" to this situation--but oh my! ! !

What a round table discussion we could have about the who, what, when, where and why's of life as we are experiencing it today! ! !

I'm going to enjoy it anyhow--you too Carol