A recently published paper has brought much needed light to a rather ugly element of the internet : child abuse. The paper looks at a generation of youths brought up with online weblogs and the potentially serious risks posed to them; it points to worryingly little being done to minimize the risks via sensible education and advice. The paper is based on research done by Dr Rachel O'Connell at the Cyberspace Research Unit, part of the University of Central Lancashire.
Dr O'Connell said that blogs could give paedophiles a simple way of tracking the movements of young children. She expressed especial concern at the rise of moblogs (Mobile Blogs) where users send photos from camera phones straight to their blog. Dr O'Connell said that Moblogs are "a paedophile's dream because you have children uploading pictures, giving out details of their everyday life because it's an online journal." The Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences Bill, currently before the Scottish Parliament, is attempting to address some of the problems raised.
It's important to understand that the paper isn't so much saying that blogs are a bad thing; rather, it's highlighting that due to the lack of guidance as to what content might be appropriate (i.e. recollections on a days trip to Wales) and what might not be (i.e. plans for the next week along side your mobile phone number) blogging poses a serious risk to naive youths. Dr O'Connell said that on most Blogging sites, there was "absolutely no internet safety information or guidance whatsoever".
View: BBC Advice for Parents