Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Internet and Your Kids - In Time For Christmas

SDOC is getting ready to go on hiatus for Christmas and the New Year.  But we're not on vacation - I'm working to continue projects in progress and I'm still fielding calls from current and future clients.  But this time of year, parents have to step away from the keyboard and focus on their children.

Some of you out there are buying computers for your kids this year.  I'll be doing the same in just a couple of years myself.  It is neither possible, nor even advisable to avoid teaching the use of technology to children.  It's an essential skill, just like the "Three R's" of a few decades back.  Teaching technology is not just about controlling a mouse or using a keyboard - even touch-typing.  It's also learning about life and how to make good decisions.

Years ago, we learned about "stranger danger" and how not to talk to strangers, how adults should ask for help from other adults, rather than from children, and how you don't take a ride from someone you don't know.  When I was in Kindergarten, we read a book called "Nancy and the Nice Bad Man" which taught a very graphic lesson about what can happen when a child takes a ride from a stranger. 

What makes navigating technology more challenging is that today, the "nice bad man" is coming right into our homes through our computer screens.  The danger is greater because without a physical presence, the threat doesn't seem real:  whether it is bullying, extortion, or even just stealing your login information and wreaking havoc on your Facebook page.  The perp isn't just your neighborhood "Chester" that all the parents warn their children to stay away from.  Perps can come from any city, town, or village on the globe - and they do, if you've gotten any 419 email scams lately.

Most of all, technology is just as new to parents as it is to children and it's constantly changing.  Parents have to learn for themselves not to get burned before they can warn their children, or monitor their online activity.

This week I had the pleasure of making a new acquaintance through my LinkedIn profile (see how easy it is to make contacts and why it's necessary to be careful?!) who runs a blog on Internet safety guidelines for parents.  Mary Kay Hoal is the COO of YourSphere - social networking for kids.  In addition to being a safe place for children to learn about communicating via the internet, the blog section provides some timely news on how to keep your kids safe and to help them avoid content you don't think they are ready for.  Before deciding whether and how much to allow your children to use the Internet, get familiar with some procedures and software to make safety easier to maintain.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
From Adrienne Duncan
Owner, SDOC Publishing Internet Solutions