When browsing on the internet, we rarely think about how the internet came to existence. We often go about our routine lives and don’t think about how the internet today has made it so convenient for people to get in touch with one another. This in turn has frequently led many people to having their identities stolen and also experienced being victims of online sexual predators. In this paper, we will discuss how with the evolution of the internet today, more people are able to get in touch with one another; therefore leading to the the harsh reality and safety precautions one can take when being online.
The Internet was the result of some visionary thinking by people in the early 1960s who saw great potential value in allowing computers to share information on research and development in scientific and military fields. J. C. R. Licklider of the Michigan Institute of Technology, first proposed a global network of computers in 1962. Soon after, Licklider moved over to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in late 1962 to head the work to develop it.
Leonard Kleinrock of MIT developed the theory of packet switching, which was to form the basis of Internet connections. Lawrence Roberts of MIT connected a Massachusetts computer with a California computer in 1965 over dial-up telephone lines (Kristula 2001). It showed the feasibility of wide area networking, but also showed that the telephone line’s circuit switching was inadequate. Kleinrock’s packet switching theory was confirmed. Roberts moved over to DARPA in 1966 and developed his plan for ARPANET. These visionaries, and many more left unnamed, are the real founders of the Internet.
Since 1966, the evolution of the internet has reached levels that no one would’ve ever thought to believe. Today, people can get in touch with one another like never before. We are provided with E-mails, AOL, Instant messaging, and the most common, Facebook and Myspace. Facebook and Myspace are commonly used to get ahold of or keep in touch with friends and family. The users of today on Facebook gross over sixty million active people. Half of the users being college students. It is known as the sixth-most trafficked site in the United States and is used all throughout the world.
Myspace on the other hand, has more than 110 million monthly active users around the world including the United States, the UK, Japan, Australia, France, Germany, and many more. Over 85% of all Myspace users are atleast eighteen years old; also, one in four United States citizens has an active myspace account (TechRadar. com). Having websites such as Facebook and Myspace, it also leads to having online sexual predators to better access to members of society. Many teens have Internet access–often private communication in the form of blogs, chat rooms, and forums.
These online communication aids are not themselves a problem. But the ever-present threat of being sexually solicited or bullied while on the Internet is a big problem. While online, teens may be persuaded to do things or share private/confidential information, to be sexually solicited, and/or to experience public humiliation. Recent testimony on child protection before Congress, alerted the public to online sexual solicitation of teens. However, parents and youth workers may be less aware of “cyber bullying” in which peers viciously attack one another.
Online sexual solicitation is a form of sexual harassment that occurs over the internet. Incidents of online sexual solicitation include: exposure to pornography; being asked to discuss sex online and/or do something sexual; or requests to disclose personal information (Onlinesafety. org. ) This can start when an adult or peer initiates an online nonsexual relationship with a child or adolescent, builds trust, and seduces him or her into sexual acts. Several studies have found that 30% of teen girls who used the Internet frequently had been sexually harassed while they were in a chat room.
Thirty-seven percent of teens (male and female) received links to sexually explicit content online. Thirty percent of teens have talked about meeting someone they met online. Nineteen percent knew a friend who was harassed or asked about sex online by a stranger. Thirty-three percent of teen girls and Eighteen percent of teen boys had been asked about sexual topics online (Forgarty 2002. ) There are several signs, traits, life circumstances, and actions that parents and adults should be aware of in order to keep teens from online communication with sexual predators.
Studies find that teens at the greatest risk for online sexual solicitation are females between the ages of fourteen and seventeen years, teens with major depressive symptoms and/or who have experienced negative life transitions (moving to a new neighborhood, a death or divorce in their family) are especially vulnerable, teens who use the internet more frequently, for four or more days a week at two or more hours a day and lastly, teens who engage in high online risk behavior (Hughes 2002. To help parents have control on the information and material that their children are looking at, they should always be aware of when the child is on the computer, talk to the children about the precautions to have before entering on the internet, and also try to block sites from the computer and having the child able to access those sites (Safekids. com 2007. )
We chose to interview her because Jordan was recently made aware of how easily one person can be tracked through the internet. Jordan is nineteen years old and is a current member of Myspace. She was ambushed by the cast of Channel 5 News one day and they interviewed her outside her house after gathering information only from her Myspace. The news cast found out that she was a cheerleader at Champion Cheer, the knew what car she drove, found out her address, parents names, license plate numbers, and the school to which she attended.
This was all information that they gathered from her pictures and “About Me” section. When she realized how easily someone could track her down, “it was a very uneasy feeling” Jordan claimed. “It is very easy to put up information about yourself and not realize how much you’re putting up on the Myspace page. ” This once again concretes the fact that predators online can get information very easily.
People in society are aware that with the evolution of the internet, we are more conveniently able to get ahold of and keep in touch with one another. Though, they don’t realize that with this evolution, it has also been another way for predators to become more aware of the citizens in the society. People should always be aware of any information that they are soliciting or the their kids would be having access to on the internet.