Look at the parental controls on the computer. Do the settings make sense for each user of the computer. You can normally have logins for each user of the computer. That way you don't have to have the same restricted settings as your 8-year-old son, and you can allow your teen more freedom.
Is your gaming system connected to the internet? If so, make sure the parental control settings make sense for each person who plays.
Most cell phones can both take pictures and connect to the internet. Luckily, most cell phone companies also have some level of parental controls on them. Like computer parental controls, the settings for cell phones will also change over time. Maybe the setting you wanted to use last time wasn't there, but it is now? Maybe it is time to allow more freedom than you had before?
Each child is different and every family is certainly different. There will never been a technical solution that is better than parenting. But sometimes parents need technical help with parenting situations. Enough.org has a check list of Rules 'N Tools that you can use to help in the decisions for you family.
- The Time Machine Children's Time Management System
- Time's Up! TV and Gaming Time Limiting Device
I have not used, nor can I endorse these items, but I am intrigued by them. Have you ever seen something like this in use? What do you think of them?
10 - Who Wants To Know? When you are registering with web sites that ask for information that you don't think it makes sense for them to have, double check it how that informaiton could be used. For example, most of the time when you are commenting, or interacting in some way, it is normal for a site to ask for your email address. But if you are not buying anything, it is not normal to ask for payment information.
9 - Who Are You? It is important to not lie about your identity, but also not reveal too much. It is OK to tell your real first name and age. It is normally OK to share your home state. It is a bad idea to give your address, phone number, or any personally identifiable information to people you don't know in real life.
8 - Sticks and Stones: I have been called many names, by many people - some not so flattering. Many times the best way to stop a bully is to ignore them. Reputable communication tools have the ability to block or ignore users including AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) and e-mail systems, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace and Twitter. Use them. Love them. It can help save your sanity.
7 - Just Say No: Kids should be taught to get an adult whenever they see something online that makes them uncomfortable. Whatever makes you uncomfortable should be reported, then you blocked so that person cannot contact you again.
You Are Here is a campaign showing kids and teens how to be smarter consumers. Questions such as how to comparison shop, how to tell if a deal is too good to be true, and even how to protect your identity.
I love that the information is clear and age appropriate, but still covers everything you'd need to know. Although the site isn't 100% specific to online safety, it does cover identity protection, how to identify a scam and how to protect your privacy. Take a look at the site and share it with kids. Come back here and tell us what you think about it.
In the last few months the topic of sexting seems like it is everywhere. We talk about it here on SafetyClicks a lot, but the same concerns we discuss are in the main stream as well. A recent episode of The Deep End, a new ABC show about a law firm, one of the clients was a teen facing charges distribution of child pornography for a picture taken of his girlfriend. The teen being charged with child pornography for sending a nude picture of their girl/boyfriend is not all that uncommon since the laws are not prepared for this kind of behavior.
If you want to watch the episode of 'The Deep End', you can watch the full episode online. On the show everything works out thanks to the savvy lawyers - do you think you would have the same luck?
What do you think about the topic of sexting showing up so much in pop culture?
YouTube is a great tool to share videos of your own and to watch the latest viral videos making their way through office buildings across the country. The challenge is that sometimes there are videos that are NSFW (not safe for work).
Thankfully, YouTube recognizes that not all videos are appropriate for all ages and came up with a Safety Mode. Similar to AOL Safe Search (YouTube filtering videos, while AOL Search filters search results), when it is in use it will not surface videos that are not appropriate for either viewing at work or viewing by younger users. Safety Mode can be set each time you go to the site, or can be permanently set if you login to your account. Kudos to YouTube for making our family viewing (and office viewing) that much safer.
What other safety tools do you know of?
The program started by talking about how effective (or not) people are at multi-tasking. I was in full agreement. I kept thinking how crazy the people were who said "they can read email, pay attention to a lecture, and search the web at the same time." Then I had to laugh at myself. I was watching this documentary with my laptop open checking mail and starting to write this post.
After I put my laptop away and started paying closer attention to the message, I was really impressed with the information.
They said that there are two categories of people in the digital arena, digital natives and digital immigrants. Among the natives, there was a deep look at the possibility of Internet addiction and the observation that multi-tasking is rampant and unproductive, the social aspect (looking mainly into massively multi-player online role playing games such as World of Warcraft), and how this technology has transformed warfare.
Regarding which camp I fall into - I think I fall squarely into the immigrant category. I have worked very hard to learn about different kids of technology, but it is not easy for me. I often end up asking people (generally young people) who are natives for help. Do you think you fit into the digital native category, or the immigrant? If you are a native, do you share your knowledge? If you are an immigrant, do you seek to learn more? How?
It is playing on PBS periodically, so I'd recommend watching it. Check your local listings for when it will be on in your area.
All of the online safety experts have the same advice about how to keep our families safe online. There are a few variations, but the basics are always the same: Keep your personal information private, block people who aren't nice and don't open unknown files, and finally, report anything that upsets you.
It is not always easy for parents and teachers to clearly express these messages to kids and teens, especially when you either are upset. Click Clever Click Safe, from the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, has come up with a clear message we can all follow.
Zip It: Keep your personal stuff private and think about what you say and do online.
Block It: Block people who send you nasty messages and don't open unknown links and attachments.
Flag It: Report anything upsets you or if someone asks to meet you offline.
If you can remember to Zip It, Block It, Flag It, you can advise your teen to report the behavior to the provider, block the person who said the mean things. As a bonus, this takes only a matter of seconds and you have empowered your teen to stand up for herself without retaliating with more hurtful words.
Hopefully your teen will never encounter this type of harassment. But it is a good idea to talk to the kids and teens in your house. If they are old enough to go online, they should learn these simple things to help keep their time online enjoyable. What ways would you suggest to open the conversation with your kids and teens about online safety?
One of the disconnects between kids and adults is that kids are being raised with the technology, so it is simply part of their world. Many adults have begun to use technology regularly, but in many cases there is a definitive line between online and offline. The youth are flowing easily between on and offline and in many ways, there is no difference. They are just two sides of the same coin.
The Door That's Not Locked campaign addresses the incorrect perception of some adults that the door is closed to knowing how to protect their kids because they need to know more about the tool than their kids to keep them safe. This comprehensive site is designed to educate teachers and parents with age specific tips and information, regardless of where the starting point is.
Do you feel like you know how to protect your kids and teens online?
Then, at the FOSI conference, I heard this startling figure: of the top 100 apps on the iPhone, 35% are geared toward toddlers and preschoolers, and 12% to elementary aged kids. I'm assuming they were purchased by the parents who are giving their kids a game to play with while they at the store, on a plane, waiting at the doctor's office, etc.. The person doing this seems like the polar opposite of the mom I first described. Are these parents this tech savvy to use the all of these gadgets and gizmos? Or are they the same parents, but have discovered a way to make the Internet part of their everyday world?
A not so scientific survey I heard about at the conference said that parents who don't use parental controls on their computer don't because they:
- don't feel they need to because the child knows more about computers than they do
- feel "that wouldn't happen to my child" when talking about being exposed to mature content
- are intimidated by the computer
I have a theory that the same parents that use technology to their advantage are the same parents who say they "can't"... they just don't realize they already are tech savvy.
What technology do you use in your life?
Many of the children's laptops don't connect to the Internet, like this one from Barbie. It is designed with girls in mind, having the Barbie packaging, but it is similar to a real laptop in how it works, regarding games and how you play them.
This one from VTech is more gender neutral. It is more "laptop like" in that it has educational games preloaded and Mom or Dad can help download new games from the Internet when your child is ready for them.
Even babies and toddlers have them. My daughter (who is not quite a year old) got a toy laptop as a gift. It just looks like a laptop, and has numbers, letters and colors. If children have toys like this at such a young age, is it any wonder that they want to get on the real computer at younger and younger ages?
What are your thoughts about computers being introduced to kids at such a young age?
I want to get them a great game for their gaming system, but have to make sure that I keep my sister in mind when picking out the coolest game ever... it has to be fun for the young teen and appropriate for the 8-year-old. I have looked at reviews, asked other parents, but when I finally made my choice, I checked two sites. The first was ESRB.org. This site has all the games listed, the ratings and why it was rated that way. The second site I check is www.CommonSenseMedia.org. This site gives parental reviews of each game (as well as movies and TV) . regardless of the rating given by ESRB. It shares what parents think it should be rated and also gives parental reviews.
I picked out my game for the kiddos. I have my fingers crossed that I wills till be "Cool Aunt Francis". At least I know I won't be "bad sister Francis".