San Jose Mercury News columnist Larry Magid spent part of last week in Washington, D.C., attending a gathering that turned out to be a "watershed moment in the 16-year history of online safety education," he writes. The third annual conference of the Family Online Safety Institute drew about 400 internet-safety advocates from 15 countries. This year’s conference was different from previous years, Magid writes, "in that young people were viewed less as potential victims of online crimes and more as participants in a global online community." That’s not to say that conference participants didn’t worry about child online safety, but "instead of focusing on real and imagined dangers, we focused on how adults can work with young people to encourage both ethical and self-protective behavior. It’s all about media literacy, digital citizenship, and critical thinking," he writes. "This was a big change from just a couple of years ago, when internet safety gatherings typically focused on ways adults could put up walls to protect children against predators, pornography, and other dangers." While online pornography continues to be a concern, the "predator panic" that was rampant a few years ago has largely been put to rest, he writes, as studies show the odds of a child being sexually molested by an online stranger are extremely low, especially when compared with children who are harmed by family members and others they know from the real world…

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