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Business - Written by on Friday, September 12, 2008 16:33 - 6 Comments

Laura M.  Carrillo
Moving your Computer into the Kitchen is Not Enough

We all know the stories about 2-3 year olds playing Playhouse Disney on the computer with mom and dad. Just this weekend my 8 year old nephew and 10 year old niece showed me the websites they built on freewebs.com where they posted a few of their favorite games (it was great to see classic Pac-Man included!), as well as some cute quizzes and guest books to sign. So the question is not when do children start using the computer because I think we have more than enough proof that use of computers starts pretty early, but at what age should our children get social online? What messages do parents need to communicate to their kids? How good are the security policies on places like Facebook and MySpace AND are parents even aware of them?

When speaking with a few other GenX/Boomer parents this week it was interesting to hear that they were all aware of the dangers of letting their 12-15 year old children…especially their daughters on social networks, however not one of them could talk about the different security options on the sites. I was amazed that people that claimed to be very involved parents had not even visited the sites to see what they’re all about. Even if you “ban” a site from your home computer, do you think your kids aren’t logging on from their friends’ computers, or other places?

Look, I know there are crazies out there that take advantage of children online, but kids will get online one way or another so parents need to get involved sooner rather than later. As many internet safety sites state, in the end it all comes down to the time tested policy of open and honest communication with our children. Speaking to them about how the internet works, what is and is not appropriate behavior online and what concerns you have. Simply cutting off access or “spying” on your kids is not the answer. So, put away the PDAs and cell phones and have a straight forward talk to your kids. Am I preaching to the choir here? How do we reach those parents that are not electronically connected?

To those readers with pre-teen or teenage children please share your thoughts. What has worked/not worked for you?

For those interested, below is a small sample of the many internet safety sites available for both kids and parents:

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA,  posts a list of safety rules for kids. Other sites include:

Safe Kids.com

Kids Health

For other info. an interesting UK Study was discussed by Andrew Keen


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aunt lee
Sep 13, 2008 11:49

For a fun way for parents to jump-start a discussion about internet and social networking safety, here’s a website that includes an instructional video and a very easy quiz.


The video is a selection of silly clips supposedly posted to the MySpace pages of the famous auntlee.com puppy and some of her friends. The clips demonstrate mistakes kids can make online.

The 10 question quiz covers the topics of cyber-bullying, privacy, safety, dangers of spyware and malware, etc.

The quiz doesn’t really focus on stranger-danger type concerns but rather gently and humorously reminds the reader that it’s possible to hurt people’s feelings, to mislead people who don’t realize you’re joking, to remember that online postings can be seen by anybody and that postings are often impossible to remove once posted.

Ken Leebow
Sep 14, 2008 21:41

A blog to assist adults in Crossing the Digital Divide:


Laura Carrillo
Sep 15, 2008 22:15

Thank you both for your comments. I enjoyed these sites and will reccommend to other families.

Sep 17, 2008 15:26

For really good resources about Internet predators and such I usually recommend materials from the Crimes Against Children Research Center. Here are some informative online videos from them: http://www.youtube.com/youthvictimization

Vancouver computer support
Feb 8, 2009 4:59

Laura Carrillo your nice thinking about kids i really like your post i also say here that parents should care about it.

Wikinomics – Do new Facebook security measures replace parental monitoring?
Dec 8, 2009 8:46

[...] safe online. However, the critical link still has to be at home. As I mentioned in a previous post, it doesn’t matter how many policies are in place, if parents are not aware of what their kids [...]

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Don Tapscott and Anthony D. William's latest collaboration, Macrowikinomics: New Solutions for a Connected Planet. Learn more.

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