It seems that a new law is going to stop American children from using social networking sites at school or in libraries.

Whether you dress this up as a way to protect kids from online dangers or just getting them to do some proper work for once, it seems a bit silly. After all, they could be kidnapped, run over, have someone's eye out or catch a chill but we don't ban them from going outside, crossing the road, throwing paper darts or jumping in puddles.

Surely the best form of protection is to educate? Children will be grown-ups one day – a fact we seem to forget very often – and rather than being shielded, they need to know their enemy. We teach kids to be wary of strangers in real life, so why can't we teach them to do the same online? It seems to me that parents and teachers might need to show a little more interest in what the kids in their charge are up to, rather than pretending not to understand this new-fangled technology stuff and then panicking when the child decides that they want to meet their cyberfriend in the flesh.

I do appreciate that kids can be quite secretive, and it can be hard for a parent or guardian to enter into their social world. But it's a part of parenting that can't be avoided. You might not be able to make your child listen and you can't know where they are or what they're up to all of the time. But what you can do is take a responsible attitude to the problem, do your homework and make sure your child has access to the information and is aware of the dangers of what they are doing.

More on the story here.