Learning About Keeping Your Child Safe Online

Today a colleague of mine and I gave a talk to middle school parents at our school on ways to teach your child about appropriate boundaries and behaviors online. We shared a number of links and I thought my readers (if there are any!) might find them useful for use in your own schools and with your own families. There are a lot, but they are great! We watched the video, "Do You Know 4.0" The Pew Internet and American Life Project did a study called Generational differences in online activities which summarizes the different things that different age groups do online - from e-mail to social networking, and everything in between. David Pogue has a well-written article in the New York Times titled, How Dangerous Is The Internet For Children where he breaks down the myths and truths regarding children online. In that article is a link to the PBS Frontline documentary Growing Up Online, which is well worth your time to watch. You can watch it online for free. We discussed a New York Times article titled, Sorry, Boys, This Is Our Domain, which discusses how women and girls actually produce the majority of image/video driven content on the web, breaking some of the myths of boys/girls and technology. We discussed how the biggest threat to our children is bullying and sexual harassment and looked at an article about students and parents resorting to "Facebook sabotage" and sending colleges "dirt" on prospective students. If you and/or your daughter are using Facebook, do read the article 5 Easy Steps to Stay Safe (and Private!) on Facebook. We looked at a tremendous parent online safety guide created by Wes Fryer that includes resources/articles/lessons on: filtering, limits, social networking, instant messaging, parent resources and more. From your questions A number of you asked wonderful questions, and we told you that we'd include links to resources on regarding those questions. Here they are: Creating family guidelines We discussed creating guidelines for your family that are clear for your child and you. NetSmartz has a great age-based list of guidelines that you may want to consider. Multitasking and brain development The Dana Foundation has a good primer called Brain Development in a Hyper-Tech World which tells us that little is yet known about the effects of all the technology in our children's lives. We do know however that "multitasking," or fast attention switching makes learning much less productive than focused work. The article also discusses social development in the age of Facebook. Questions about spelling Research shows that text message speak does not harm spelling skills. Article from the Telegraph. The Curriculum, Technology, and Education Reform master's program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a good summary of some of the research regarding using computers for writing, including critiques of and benefits of using spell check software. Filtering your home computer We don't recommend any particular brand of filters for home. That being said, many families find it helpful to block out objectionable content or block certain websites/applications at certain times. GetNetWise has a section that highlights popular filtering tools. PC Magazine has an article on Child-Safe Browers. Misinterpreting e-mail 50% of all e-mail is misinterpreted, even that written by the best writers. Know that when you are sending and reading e-mail, and discuss this with your children.