Promoting Child Safety Online

The internet is a wonderful tool. Indeed, it is becoming the tool that most of us use to communicate with others, perform research or homework, play games, work, and get our news. With this surge of use, however, comes a startling reality: We actually know very little about the “friends” we generate online. With the use of Social Media, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. exploding, what, if anything, can be done to warn our most precious resource, children, of the dangers the online world holds?

And it’s not only computers that host the danger. Its Smartphone’s as well. And with most Smartphone’s, they come equipped with location services, or GPS, if you will. If these settings are turned on, you can be tracked, stalked, and located.

Today, kids are exposed to technology at a much earlier age than their parents. And really, know more about that technology than mom or dad as well.

In 2011, UNICEF released a study titled Child Safety Online: Global Challenges and Strategies. They wrote: “Globally, children and young people tend to become early users and prime innovators on the Internet, and are often far ahead of their parents and other adults in terms of use, skills and understanding. The Internet, particularly social networking and other interactive media, provides new forms of social space globally that did not exist when most contemporary parents were themselves children. Young people in all societies today are pioneers, occupying online spaces in ways that adults often cannot imagine. These spaces can be immensely creative, but can also expose children to dangers adults may in many instances only dimly perceive.”

So, what can parents do to protect their children from the dangers of what is on the internet? And how do we, as a society, intend to regulate the internet in order to keep the unsavory elements out of our children’s lives?

These are difficult questions, but they must be addressed in our homes, schools, and public forums. It’s a situation that requires heavy parental involvement, indeed, years. Kids need to know the difference between right and wrong behavior and feel free to speak about anything amiss in their lives to trusted friends and parents.

I don’t intend to come across as someone who has all the answers. But monitoring and limiting use, placing the computer in a public area of the home, and checking the settings of their Smartphone make good, practical sense.

As you explore my site, you’ll find that my son was targeted by a cyber predator. While my son was not harmed and the predator is in prison, I the experience opened my eyes to how important it is for parents to be engaged with their kids online and social activity rather than simply be aware of their activity. I hope you’ll take a moment to learn more about the service, uKnowKids, that was developed as a result of my family’s experience. I think you’ll agree that it can make digital parenting much easier.

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Categories: General, Mobile, Social Networking

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