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Resilience, not abstinence, may help withstand online risk

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Washington: As per a team of researchers, boosting a teen’s ability to cope with online risks, rather than trying to stop them from using the Internet, may be a better parental strategy for keeping them safe.

The researchers, who monitored web-based diaries of a group of 68 teen internet users during the two-month study, said the teens reported they encountered 207 risky events, including sexual solicitations and online harassment, said Pamela Wisniewski from the Penn State.

While the media may continue to focus on cases of online risk that had tragic consequences, the diary entries showed that many teens routinely handle some risky situations on their own.

“Focusing on the more positive interactions dealing with online risk flips this debate on its head and turns the conversation from one of parents trying to keep their teens safe to maybe there’s more we can do to teach teens how to keep themselves safe,” said Wisniewski.

Teens, in fact, did not see much of a difference between online risks and the risks they encounter in real-life social settings, she added.

The researchers suggest that teens may be better off gradually acclimating to online risk and building resilience by overcoming lower risk situations, rather than avoiding exposure to risks, which is a more commonly recommended tactic today. Parents and caretakers can act as guides in the process.

The study has been presented at ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. (ANI)

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