I’d like to note at this point that we’ve seen pieces in the past by the NY Times, and most specifically Nellie Bowles, that push a narrative of a moral panic against tech…especially as it relates to screentime and youth. This narrative is one of the reasons why I started up the Technopanic Podcast with Kristen Turner.
The piece makes the following points:
Sexual predators and other bad actors have found an easy access point into the lives of young people: They are meeting them online through multiplayer video games and chat apps, making virtual connections right in their victims’ homes.
The criminals strike up a conversation and gradually build trust. Often they pose as children, confiding in their victims with false stories of hardship or self-loathing. Their goal, typically, is to dupe children into sharing sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves — which they use as blackmail for more imagery, much of it increasingly graphic and violent.
I think there is a danger of strangers reaching out to youth while online. I also recognize that this danger could happen as they walk down the street. The key is to have dialogue with children as they interact in digital, social spaces.