To Catch a Preditor
To whom reads this,
As a father of a 15-year-old boy, and as an individual who grew up in a tech-savvy era, I have always had my concerns about my son and his safety online. I am aware that a website that consistently shows up on his screen is teenchat.com, a site for teens to converse on – he told me the learned of the site through friends of his at school.
Growing up, I was never one to partake in these kinds of online dialogues but I want to believe my son has been raised well enough to make the right decisions. Recently, I caught a clip of a show long gone, To Catch a Predator and it made me wonder. I still do not doubt the standards my son holds himself to but online, everyone is vulnerable.
Privacy is such a rarity in today’s society where everyone is connected through social media, being constantly informed by the latest tweet or blog post. As humans, we are naturally curious, even in the perfect world I believe we would still have a natural curiosity to learn about the secret lives of our neighbors. We should have privacy and I believe it can be achieved if we hold ourselves accountable. There is a structure that has been provided to allow individuals to partake in the social communication without sacrificing all of their personal information. It is when technology is abused, when individuals regress on our social moral standard that other’s reputations are damaged.
I never found the show to be journalism when I first watched it as a youth and now that my son is surfing the internet on a daily basis, I still don’t find this show any more informative. He may be in the demographic of those children taken advantage of but the show made the issue over dramatic; the greater concerns were involving the ratings and not so much directing attention towards the issue and finding a solution. Lights, cameras, and a host that used mediocre humor to belittle the victim makes the whole situation seem more of a joke. This show is an extreme. A situation that seems to cross the line of realistic and people naturally gravitate towards that. What if real life was worse? What if the situation escalated past the point where it was resolved? Television provides an outlet where we can explore those questions and guess where the alternate ending is located.
If 2.3 million people tuning in each evening is bringing awareness about the topic of cyber abuse, then that is good. The process of desensitizing the viewing audience however, is counterproductive. At the end of the day, I believe it is the responsibility of the parent to do my job, to guide and nurture my son and to help establish a firm foundation of knowledge and awareness.