So, most parents are asking themselves, "What is ‘Web 2.0’ anyway?"
2.0 is the "term" used to describe interactive technologies and systems that are internet enabled. For instance, your child's cell phone and PDA may have internet capabilities. The term also encompasses social network sites, blogs, video-sharing sites, computer gaming systems – anything that involves interactivity. Such devices and abilities are very cool and offer tons of fun – but they also pose great risks.
Your child no longer has to be "bound" at a desk in front of a computer screen to have the world – and everyone in it - at his fingertips. Every day children who visit interactive sites interact with strangers. And, more and more often, home-spun internet porn has been appearing everywhere from the school bus to the back seat of mom's mini van. One mom recently shared with me how devastated she was to discover that the months of giggling and whispering from the back of her car weren't caused by the typical pre-teen gossip. They were caused by nude and semi-nude cell phone photos being freely passed around nearly every day right under her nose. The porn shop was her car, and the porn stars were school children who were sexting each other.
This mom thought she was doing nearly everything right: she stays home in order to be present and active in her children’s lives. She drives carpool several times a week to further bond with her children and their friends. She was making all this wonderful effort and still the worst of the worst was happening right in her own car.
Is there anything you can you do to stop the invasion of your car, your home, and your family sanctuaries by perverts and predators, for crying out loud?
Yes! This is the last column in a three part series on the very real threats posed to our children through modern technology. The first week I covered dangerous Internet content - the prevalence of pornography - and how to keep it out of your home. In week two I discussed how contact is frequently made with your children by those who seek to do them harm, and gave tips to keep children from these online predators. The problems of both pornography and predators are present and dangerous in Web 2.0, but this week I’m focusing more on the conduct of children when they are online.
Here are a few tips to help your child steer clear of negative online conduct – both their own and others’:
- Explain that there are rules that must be followed – and why. One of the key rules is that you will review the content of their Facebook pages, e-mails and gaming habits.
- Purchase only devices that come with parental controls. Visit your local tech store with your child and ask someone to show you how to use them.
- Monitor which sites your child visits. Even with an internet filter, you should always check out the browser history.
- Learn to recognize the behavior signs that indicate children are involved in risky behavior. There is a very good description and discussion about this at www.Internet Safety 101.com
- Talk to your children about the wise use of technology, and set boundaries. It’s not just content that’s harming our children; it’s also the amount of time they are spending online. Children who spend too much time chatting online tend to move into inappropriate subject matter and use inappropriate language.
- Remind your children that anything they post or say is open for the entire world to see. There is no true privacy in texting, e-mail or social networking sites.
The many practical solutions to dangerous online content, contact and conduct are contained in the new program, Internet Safety 101. Log on to InternetSafety101.com for the most comprehensive set of “Rules and Tools” ever created to keep children safe online. If you don’t keep them safe – no one will.