Are you afraid of the Internet?

The C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan recently published a survey called The National Poll on Children’s Health. While this report calls out the usual suspects of drugs and obesity, there was one concern that was surprisingly high: the Internet.

When I saw this, I was pretty shocked. I was all set to type up a post about our people’s collective reluctance to embrace technology, or at least non-consumer technologies. Then, I read this part, which messed that post all up:

Internet safety had no differences in proportion of concern by education status, income level or marital status.

Although race is not explicitly mentioned here, I doubt that the difference between Black people and non-Black people is statistically significant. I wonder what everyone is afraid of?

I know that people fear Online Predators. Some people also fear Identity Theft. Others are concerned about all the porn. There are other things.

There has got to be more to it than that though. Are people, parents in the case of this study, afraid of the Internet because they don’t understand it? Do they think that the bad outweighs the good? Most importantly, are they encouraging their children not to use the Internet because of these fears? I certainly hope not because I see this as a tremendous opportunity to teach about risks & rewards, about using technology (or anything for that matter) responsibly and carefully.

What scares you about the Internet? Are you afraid of certain parts of it? Are you concerned about your children’s usage of the Internet? I would love to hear parents’ opinions on this.

It’s important that we understand technology, all sides of technology. We can only realize our full potential once we understand the world we live in more fully. For better or worse, the Internet is important in today and tomorrow’s world.

One Love. One II.


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About Garlin Gilchrist II

I am the City of Detroit's first ever Deputy Technology Director for Civic Community Engagement. My job is to open up the city's public data and information for the consumption and benefit of all Detroiters. I currently live in Detroit, my hometown, with my beautiful wife Ellen and our twins Garlin III and Emily Grace. I'm from Detroit. I created Detroit Diaspora, and was formerly the National Campaign Director at I also co-hosted The #WinReport on "The Good Fight," a an award winning, nationally syndicated radio show that was one of Apple's Best of 2013. After graduating with degrees in Computer Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Michigan, I became a Software Engineer at Microsoft. By day, I helped build SharePoint into the fastest growth product in the company's history. On my personal time, I sought out opportunities to connect my technical skills with community building efforts across the country. This led to my co-founding The SuperSpade: Black Thought at the Highest Level, a leading Black political blog. I served as Social Media Manager for the 2008 Obama campaign in Washington, and then became Director of New Media at the Center for Community Change. I spent two years creating and implementing a strategy for the Center to take it's 40 years of community organizing experience into the digital age. I speak before diverse audiences on effective & responsive government, empowerment in revolutionary new organizing spaces, increasing civic engagement & participation through emerging technologies and protecting civil rights in the age of the Internet. Full bio here.

2 responses to “Are you afraid of the Internet?”

  1. Nikki says :

    I admit I do have concerns that folks think keeping in touch with people with the internet is a viable option that may replace human interaction.

    While I am a technology supporter, I must ask my brothers and sisters to meet up with each other, hug, sit down and talk.

    I’m not at concerned about identity theft but I will say stalking and online hate speech and abuse concern me especially with marginalized communities.

    Myspace/Crackspace/Stalkspace -the engulfed concern my students have with watching their partners or friends does not teach them to develop healthy relationships based on trust, honesty and respect.

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