Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do we want to be that safe?

I got an email from Graham today telling me that he was going to have to hold off on his Blog Coach plan. If you have been reading about Al Upton's blog closure, you can probably understand why.

I won't pretend to have read everything about Al's problem, but what I have read allows me to see what a shame this is. And when you add to it the fact that other people, like Graham, are now having to wait to see what they will and won't be allowed to do, it becomes an even bigger shame.

I understand the need to try to keep our kids safe. But I don't know if it is really possible to keep anyone as safe as we seem to think our children should be. We do not and cannot, for instance, protect children from many dangers that are much more likely to occur. We are very selective about the dangers we protect them from. We let them go to schools and colleges where they may be shot. We let them play sports where they may end up being paralyzed. We let them ride school buses and vans, which may be involved in serious accidents. We don't stop them from dating, which opens the door for physical and sexual abuse.

And what do we lose in the process of trying to keep them that safe? We lose all the much more likely positive benefits of whatever it is we make off-limits to our kids. In this case, they cannot interact with adults from around the world who might be able to teach them something valuable or encourage them in a way that no one else has before. They lose the opportunity to develop their own voice online. They lose the opportunity to learn in a safe setting how to conduct themselves online. They also lose their openness to new experiences.

I agree with what Meg Ryan's character said in "French Kiss":
I realized that I've spent most of my adult life trying to protect
myself from exactly this situation. And you can't do it.
There's no home safe enough, no relationship secure enough.
You're setting yourself up for an even bigger fall and having
an incredibly boring time in the process.

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