Have you all heard of this website http://chatroulette.com?
It is a social networking site designed by a 17 year old kid in Moscow where you just go to the page and can start randomly video chatting with people. I think The Week gives the best breakdown of it.
As you would expect there is your fair share of pervs and creeps on this website. There is also your fair share of normalish looking teens. And then there are your pre-teens.
Is this a scary development for the internet world or just another sign of the times? It seems that there is a serious danger for some vulnerable kids. If Dali talked about "the hope and danger of instantaneous exchange of thought" with the invention of the phone, then now we must consider the hope and danger in instant video communication.
I went on to the website for a few minutes and faced my camera to the wall. There were many, many disturbing images in just that short span. It seems scary that 10-11 year olds who are curious will be exposed to those things. Not to discount the fact that they can see most of that stuff on the internet anyways, but there is something particularly eerie about seeing it in real time.
I liked one comment on the website:
"In an (excellent) essay on ChatRoulette, New York magazine's Sam Anderson approaches his first foray into the video streams with "an open mind and an eager soul," seeing the Whitmanesque potential in the "ecstatic surrender to the miraculous variety and abundance of humankind." Sorry, Sam, but I'm no Internet naïf. I've plumbed the depths of the Web, and one thing I've learned is that when you give anyone an open platform with anonymity and no moderating, it inevitably gets overrun by the lowest common denominators: trolls, exhibitionists and an endless stream of hopeful men prodding women to take off their clothes. (It's worth noting that, in the end, Anderson left "crushed" by what he encountered.)"
Part of the beauty of the internet is that it is virtually unregulated but as it becomes more and more sophisticated, is it time to start regulating this once lawless land?