In a report released today, the American Academy of Pediatrics expresses concern about social networking sites. Despite the recent focus on restricting access to social networking Web sites to protect children, researchers have found that victimization online is more likely to occur through instant messaging and in chat rooms. The Growing up With Media survey asked nearly 1,600 Internet users between the ages of 10 to 15 about their online experiences over the past year. Fifteen percent reported an unwanted sexual solicitation in that time, with about one-fourth of those occurring on a social networking site. Thirty-three percent reported online harassment, with about one-fourth of the incidents occurring on a social networking site. Among targeted youth, solicitations were reported to be via instant messaging (43 percent of incidents) or in chat rooms (32 percent of incidents). Harassment was more common in instant messaging (55 percent of incidents). The authors suggest that parents should focus on children’s online behaviors and psychosocial issues rather than on restricting use of social networking sites. They also recommend that policy aimed at reducing children’s victimization on the Internet focus on mental health interventions for vulnerable youth, and broad Internet safety education.

Author's Bio: 

The invasive impact of violent and biased media on children became the impetus, in 1991, for Levy to create KIDS FIRST! / Coalition for Quality Children's Media, dedicated to promoting and nurturing quality children's media as a vehicle for social change. A former educator, Levy designed an award-winning television series, Kidnetics, for PBS Affiliate, WNIT-TV, produced an ACE-nominated television show (Cable Magazine), and managed an independent film production and distribution company, OneWest Media, selling to national and international markets including PBS, the Discovery Channel and Showtime.

For KIDS FIRST, Levy developed the following programs:

Videotherapy, a violence prevention program serving at-risk kids and families in New Mexico

Media Training and Junior Film Critics Club for adults and kids ages 8-12

Incubated Meg's Gifts - a children's hospital donation project

KIDS FIRST! Film Festival - a traveling event that partners with 100 venues annually

Levy co-authored two books, "The New York Times / KIDS FIRST Guide to The Best Children's Videos" and "A Parent's Guide to the Best Children's Videos, DVDs and CD-ROMs" and is a frequent speaker at conferences, including:

Vice President Gore's Family Re-Union

Video Software Dealers Association Convention (now Home Media Entertainment Conference)

National Governor's Association Conference on Quality in Education

Head Start Research Conference

National Association of Family and Community Educators

Levy's media reviews and articles on children's media appear in the following publications and websites:

Grand Magazine

KIDS FIRST! News and KIDS FIRST! Website

TiVo's Zidzone

Smart Television Alliance

Moving Pictures Magazine

National Association for Family and Community Education

She is the mother of two grown children and two wonderful grandchildren.