The Dangers of the Internet
By: Mia Bloomer
The Internet can be a place to learn, to express yourself, or to just have fun. But, the Internet can also be a very dangerous place. As teenagers we tend to ignore the warnings our parents give us, and act as though nothing bad will ever happen to us. But, the truth of the matter is that bad things happen to ordinary people- especially when we look for it.
In the May 22,2002, issue of the New York Times, reporter Corey Kilgannon wrote:
By day, she was Christina Long, a thirteen-year-old altar girl and a co-captain of the
cheer leading team at St. Peter Roman Catholic School in Danbury, Conn., where the
principal said she was a “good student and well behaved.”
But in the evenings, the authorities say, she logged onto the Internet using the screen
name LongTooHot4u and the slogan, “I will do anything at least once.” In her bedroom,
the police say, she used her computer to troll chat rooms and meet adult men for sex, her
marital status listed as, “i might be single i might not be.”
Early Monday, Christina's body was found in a steep ravine off a country road in
Greenwich. She had been strangled, the authorities say, by a twenty-five-year-old
Greenwich man she had met in one of those chat rooms.
The man, Saul Dos Reis, had had several sexual encounters with Christina, the
authorities say, before killing her Friday night and dumping her body.1
While you may think that something like that will never happen to you, it very well could. If you choose to interact with people you have never met face to face before, then what makes you exempt from anything like that ever happening to you? How do you know that the seemingly nice people at the other computer terminal are who they say they are? What gives you enough confidence in their character to give them one ounce of your attention, let alone a significant investment of your time and emotional energies? Can you be sure they aren't actually mass murderers, serial rapists, or child pornographers?2 The fact is, you can't know- therefore, it is always best to make sure that you don't place yourself in those situations.
While meeting guys over the Internet may seem like safe excitement, don't be fooled. Cyber relationships can be as far from real life as the fairy tales you read as a child.2 The popularity of Internet chat rooms has grown tremendously throughout the years. John Eldredge wrote of this new fascination with cyberspace in his book The Journey of Desire:
Cyber relationships have launched the search for the golden man or woman to a new level
because the mystique can be maintained much longer. Internet love doesn't ever have bad
breath, you don't get an STD from a terminal, and no one ever has to know.3
In an Internet relationship you only see the good things the other person wants you to see through e-mails and instant messages. In real relationships with people, you see the whole package- the good, the bad, and the ugly.2 The Internet allows you to be whoever you want to be online, and while that may seem 'fun' or 'cool' at the time, all that it is helping you do is become a dishonest person. Although not all Internet encounters end badly, it is usually healthier and safer to interact with people you have met in person before.
In Every Young Woman's Battle, Shannon Ethridge says,“While writing my book, I asked 120 young women if they had ever been lured into an unhealthy relationship on the Internet, and to tell me about their experience. I was hoping to get at least four or five responses. I was shocked to receive ten times that amount. While I couldn't include all the responses I received, Amber's response represents what many of your peers told me about their experiences of surfing the Net to meet a guy.
When Amber was thirteen she became depressed but found the Internet to be a welcome escape. She told us,” I discovered that I could...
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