A tragedy just occurred in a town not far from here. Two 12-year-old girls played out a terrible fantasy based on a website they often visited that resulted in them luring their 12-year-old friend into the woods and stabbing her: she survived but is clinging to life.
The owner of the website denies that it’s anything but a literature site. But according to the two girls, it propelled them to do something very evil.
Some people are going to say that the website should be shut down. Others will say that it was never meant for children in the first place.
But the bottom line is that these girls had access to the site. Their parents may not have even known about the site, because thanks to today’s technology, anyone can have easy and private access to anything on the Web.
It seems so long ago that we had a computer set up in our dining room, where we could supervise Internet surfing and thus allowed our children limited access to the Internet. As they grew older, they could afford their own computers in their own rooms. At that point, we could no longer see what they were accessing, but they were nearly adults by then and we had to trust them.
Now, young children have total access to the Internet, and to the many good and bad things available on it. Kids are being bullied on Facebook and other social sites. Some have committed suicide because of that.
Once, it was considered entirely reasonable for parents to strictly limit their children’s intake of all forms of media, and even of books they considered inappropriate. But since the ascent of the Internet, it seems that most kids are allowed free access to anything they can find. And now we’re seeing the sad results of that policy.