Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Internet Safety

When I asked my students which of them had a MySpace account every single one of them raised their hands. Last year when I asked only a handful did. The average number of friends they reported having was upwards of 150. Only a few of them had privacy features initiated on their accounts.

The Internet is a scary place. Some friends and I were just discussing this past weekend what uncharted territory it represents for parents these days. A speaker at an education conference I attended last month referred to adults as Computer Language Learners while kids these days are Computer Language Natives. I can navigate my way around computers fairly well, but then again, so could the 4 year-old I babysat this summer who would have happily spent all day on Webkinz if she'd been permitted.

Computer skills are vital to success these days, so we'd be doing our kids a disservice to cut them off and completely restrict their access. Still, how can you properly monitor them if they know more than you do about the subject? This isn't an area where most young parents have a lot of role models. My parents certainly didn't have to monitor what I looked at on the Internet since we didn't have it until my senior year of high school.

So... I'm off to research Internet safety some more. Our kids are only infants, so I probably don't need to worry too much right now, but it's good to be prepared.

5 comments:

Pennythrower said...

That is horrible, B! I am so sorry to hear about this. I will be thinking of her, and her family. The police are able to track myspace accounts (IP addresses, etc), so perhaps in this case, they might be able to bridge the gap between the Natives and Literates. I hope so.

Amy said...

We haven't had to deal with this stuff yet, but we are very ready. There are programs to put on the computer to manage what your kids look at, and can block certain things. And, parents simply can't let kids have myspace accounts, really, not even their own emails when young -- even webkinz, I've heard, has chat rooms that a weirdo can get into -- so we never have introduced the site to Helena. Computers should be in a spot visible to the family at all times, like the kitchen. It's not being over-bearing -- it's being wise!

Amy said...

We haven't had to deal with this stuff yet, but we are very ready. There are programs to put on the computer to manage what your kids look at, and can block certain things. And, parents simply can't let kids have myspace accounts, really, not even their own emails when young -- even webkinz, I've heard, has chat rooms that a weirdo can get into -- so we never have introduced the site to Helena. Computers should be in a spot visible to the family at all times, like the kitchen. It's not being over-bearing -- it's being wise!

Pennythrower said...

I'm with Amy about having the computer visible to everyone, in a family space. However, I think it's pretty unrealistic to forbid kids to have myspace accounts, and by the time your kids are old enough, G-d knows what will be online. Forbidding access to things can often be the very catalyst for abuse of it. Of course, myspace for a gradeschooler should totally be offlimits, but once you get to the teen years, I think a lot of harm can be done, not to mention the blowback, if you forbid things, rather than have open and honest discussions with your teenagers about the sites. After all, we're raising adults, people who can think for themselves. Then again, there are a million opinions on how to raise teenagers, on the cusp of adulthood, but not quiiiiite there yet. ;)

Amy said...

To me giving kids the "freedom" of myspace isn't worth it. There's been too many horror stories associated with it. My job is to protect my kids, even if I have to be firm and go against the mainstream. We do all things for the good of our kids, and I just don't see myspace really doing anything good for them. Nor is it essential to their development as teens. Socialization is good. But, I think there's plenty of other more healthy ways to accomplish that.