The Week in Online Safety, July 11, 2011
A weekly global view of online safety news, policy developments, research, and influence 

Violent Video Games
The ramifications of the last month’s Supreme Court ruling striking down a California law restricting the sale of violent video games to minors, continued this week.  NPR reports in “It's A Duel: How Do Violent Video Games Affect Kids?” that the research debate is unsettled, and that “scientists who think the games are harmful and those who think they're not are both looking at the same evidence. They just see two different things.” 

Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association wrote in an editorial after the ruling that:
“As an industry, we are working to do our part by providing parents with the tools and information they need, including providing password-protected parental controls on all new video-game consoles. These robust controls allow parents' choices to be enforced even when they are not at home.”

Online Safety Legislation
Last week, several states either enacted or advanced legislation to address cyberbullying.  In Connecticut,   SB 1138  was signed into law.   The Hartford Courant reports that “School officials are directed to develop a policy for maintaining a safe school environment and provide training in suicide prevention to teachers.”    In Hawaii, HB 688 was sent to the governor for signing.   The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports  the bill “requires the Board of Education to regulate compliance with Department of Education rules on bullying, cyberbullying or harassment,” as well as “hold annual training sessions on how to promote respect and how to intervene when students are victims or perpetrators of bullying.”  However in Oregon, SB 240, which would have required schools to have a cyberbullying policy, died when the 2011 session ended last week.

 Research
Two interesting new studies from the United Kingdom were published last week.  Dr Sarah Pederson of Robert Gordon University published a cyberbullying survey of teens, and found that half of teen boys and young men admitted to cyberbullying, and almost 70 per cent had been victims of cyberbullying, the Daily Mail reported.  Also in the U.K., Nominet published an 100 word review, The impact of digital technologies on human wellbeing.  The report found pervasive fears about online safety among U.K. parents, including 80 percent believing it is possible to become addicted to social networking sites, and a third believing that the Interne can “rewire” a person’s brain, The Telegraph reported.

 Advocates
Larry Magid writes about, “Old school conversations about child online safety, stating that“While there are many tools available to control or monitor what your children are doing online, the best approach is the oldest of tools called conversation."  Marsali Hancock, President of iKeepSafe.org, writes about “Facebook Parenting: A Proactive Approach For Tweens.”

 - Compiled by David Burt