"We’ve been talking a lot lately about the massive moral panic going on right
now, claiming that the internet is somehow inherently dangerous for kids. As
we’ve noted, the evidence simply does not support this. Over and over and over
again we see the actual data and actual research shows no evidence of any
inherent harm to children from the internet and social media. Indeed, much of
the evidence suggests that most kids get real value out of the internet from
the ability to communicate with friends and family to access information and
people they wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
That’s not to say that no one is harmed, or that no one is bullied, or that no
one is made to feel bad about themselves online. Because that happens. And
there’s nothing wrong with looking for ways to minimize those things, or to
minimize the impact of those things. But some of that is human nature, and
you’re not going to change human nature.
Unfortunately, most of the political class and the media have completely bought
in on this moral panic. And lots of others are buying it, despite the lack of
evidence. When I wrote an article recently highlighting how little evidence
there is to support the idea that social media is bad for kids, I literally had
someone email us to demand I retract the article
because it was “obvious”
that social media is dangerous. But the data just doesn’t show any of that.
Last year, I wrote an article about how dangerous this moral panic actually
is for kids. I noted that this mad rush to try to “clean up” the internet to
make sure everywhere was perfectly safe for everyone was the equivalent of
raising children at Disneyland, and then on their 18th birthday, releasing them
into the real world outside the gates, and expecting them to be able to
survive. It’s doing the opposite of preparing kids for the real world. It’s
hiding the real world from them and failing to give them the tools to survive."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics