Oprah Says Webcams are Evil. Are They?

I recently received an email from Grant, discussing his grandmother and a recent episode on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Here is what he had to say:

My grandmother, like so many other grandmothers, doesn’t know a thing about technology and has the habit of watching the Oprah show. So when Oprah had a special about a teenager who became infamous online with the help of a webcam, my grandma concluded that webcams are the spawn of the devil. I did not watch the show, but I read about it and watched excerpts of it after I had heard my grandmother talking about the evils of webcams. Basically the boy’s story goes like this…
The boy, Justin, was only 11 years old when he got a webcam and used it on his
computer in his room. He went to chat rooms ,where he lied about his age, and got paid to have “cybersex” with the perverts in the chat rooms. Eventually he started his own website and made quite a bit of money using his webcam/website for porn. Justin claims that he did not know what he was doing, and that he was just taken advantage of. Eventually he stopped stripping for the camera, and (with the help of a reporter) went on the Oprah show to warn people of the dangers of the Internet.
Oprah was interviewing the reporter who somehow saved Justin (again, I didn’t watch the whole thing so I don’t know the exact details), and was telling parents that they should monitor their kids online, and that children should not have their own computers in their rooms. I totally agree. But what really troubled me, and made my grandma scared of the Internet, was when the reporter told parents to throw away any webcams in their house! What? Doesn’t he realize that webcams can be used for so much good? They are a great way to communicate to other people, and are not always used for cybersex. My other problem with the show is that they made this kid look like a victim. He wasn’t. He claimed that he thought the old men in the chat rooms were his
friends… what?? What kid would take off his clothes for a 50+ year old man in front of his computer for money?? How could his parents have not known about this? Why was there a computer in this kid’s room in the first place??? The people who should be blamed are Justin’s parents!
So Chris, could you please tell people that webcams are not these evil things that perverts use to abuse children. Rather they are tools that can bring
families closer together. I think that it is important that people stop being so afraid of technology. Thanks!

Grant, I have to agree with you 100%. If you follow this line of thinking, then screwdrivers are evil, because they could be used to stab someone. Cars are evil because people die in car accidents. They are merely tools. If you (the general ‘you’) don’t teach people and children the proper use of these tools, that’s what can invite disaster.

Parents need to set up guidelines for their children. They need to monitor what is going on. “With great power comes great responsibility”…. with ALL things. This would include a webcam. The webcam itself is not evil. The potential evils lurk behind any person who is not given boundaries, knowledge and understanding. Technology is not a babysitter. Teach your children, friends and relatives the proper way to use technology, and the matters of safety.

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