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Internet might not be as scary as you think

29 January, 2008
By Allison Orr

Last year, the government’s NetAlert campaign ran advertisements on TV, newspapers and billboards warning of the risks to children and teenagers on the Internet.  A booklet was also sent to every household in Australia.  The campaign quoted a survey that had shown more than half 11-15 year olds who chat online are contacted by strangers.

The then Communications Minister, Senator Helen Coonan, said the statistics were taken from an independent study commissioned by the government, but was unable to make the research public as it contained personal information.                             

Now, an article by Peter Mares published at Creative Economy explains how ABC Radio National's The National interest has obtained the full research report under freedom of information laws.  An analysis of the report has found that the government accentuated the negative aspects of the report and used these points in the advertising.

For instance, the NetAlert research includes "friends of friends" and anyone not met in the physical world in the category of "strangers", thus giving a much higher, and inaccurate, picture of the dangers posed by strangers online.

For more detail, see the full article: How NetAlert accentuated the negative.

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