August 13, 2009

Crisis Phobia and "The Top 100 Search Terms Queried by Kids"

I remember a Professor of mine who used to always call our attention to the 'crisis phobea' some writers try to spread. I don't know if you have ever noticed some writers going about their job as though the world is going to end if you don't listen to them. I remembered my Professor and his long lectures on the perpetrators of crisis phobia when I read OnlineFamily.Norton's list of  top 100 terms kids search on-line.

Top 100 Search Terms Queried by Kids? Do you know what they are? There is everything from YouTube to Google to Face Book to Michael Jackson to Pokemon to you name what you consider popular with kids on net and they are there! Take a look at it and at first it appears to be a very innocent list. But wait a second! Is it as innocent as Norton is trying to sound?

There are some search terms in the list  that can be very disturbing where parents are concerned. Sex is fourth in the list. Porn is sixth in the list. And at least four more 'taboo' words occur on the list. And the write up does not mention the age levels of the children who would have searched these words while they were surfing. It simply gives you a general list of 100 search terms and of course a note to many of them in case parents sat wondering what they were.

Norton claims that they tracked down 3.5 million searches and a search term had to be submitted at least 50 times to qualify as a 'kids' top search term.' See how they are trying to validate their findings in the best way possible. And Norton says [See the crisis words stressed using inverted comas]:

According to OnlineFamily.Norton, kids’ top 100 search terms include sites like YouTube, eBay and Craigslist, as well as social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. The words “sex” and “porn” also made it to the top, ranking number four and six respectively.
And one clearly understands that the post target parents as there are explanations to most of the search terms used. Why did they do it? Of course we know - they have this OneFamily Child Protection, Net Filtering Software to sell. Yah, the one like China's Green Dam. And this report shows us even they can keep track of what you are doing with your PC, like Green Dam.

Please don't get me wrong! I do not endorse children visiting pornographic sites. I do not endorse adults visiting pornographic sites even. Because most of these sites spread malware, viruses and spyware. It is not healthy for your computer if you visit them. And to make sure that your personal information like passwords and credit card number are safe, you need to make sure that spyware and malware do not infest your PC or MAC. And I know kids sometimes tend to visit such sites out of curiosity and in turn gets the computer affected. And perhaps, it is good to have a Site Filtering System on your computer.

However, that does not justify the the way Norton has tried to scare poor parents into buying their software. [Ya, it is free now! But what about later?] It does not justify their attempt to generalize search terms and make it look like 'kids are as pervert as adults' I would not have bothered if they gave a reference to the age level of children. But they have made the list look like every kid from a toddler to a teenager needs to be closely watched like police watches a suspect, every time they go on-line. I can not agree with the idea that they collect user data [which is personal] and publish it on-line and try to make that a selling point!

Print Screen Image from Norton's Site

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