Saturday, October 25, 2008

Internet & computer safety

Parents are concerned about their children's Internet and gaming habits.

In my Internet Safety PPT you will see some of the issues that concerned me as a teacher/parent.
I explain how parents should log in to Facebook, or any of the other sites their child visits, and look for them. You can do a search for your child's web page and it might turn up some interesting information. Too many kids post identifying information about themselves, which can and does lead to trouble. Many more use foul language and threats. Some young people do not understand that they only have one reputation to lose. Posting revealing photos is a dangerous thing to do. Many employers are using this feature to check out potential employees, as well. I have warned against this in another post. Plagiarism is another issue of concern to me.

An addiction to anything, be it the computer, drugs, or anyone, can be harmful. Wise parents demand that their child gets up and takes a break on a regular basis. At one point, I had to discipline my son and ended up removing the keyboard and putting it in the trunk of my car while I was at work. This worked well!

In our household, with three children, they took turns a half hour at a time. If they wanted or needed more time they could negotiate with their sibling, depending upon what their plans were! This really limited their activities as they would hover around each other and the eldest would supervise the youngest, and vice versa!

At one point, for safety, I had the computer in my bedroom. That meant that I could go back and forth and peer over their shoulders and see what they were doing.

You should NEVER let your child
a) have a computer in his/her bedroom
b) have a videocam with their computer.

There is simply no NEED for it and it is incredibly dangerous. Otherwise you have no idea who they are talking to, or when, and what they are doing.

A parent of one of my classroom students insisted that her daughter let her log-in as the child and participate in the MSN friends. I loved this idea. That was her bottom line. That way she could see who her friends were and if she was engaging in dangerous behaviour, i.e., allowing strangers to contact her. These preferences can be made in a chat, and this is a simple protective tool.

I have been exploring Skype, in order to video chat with my (now) adult children & grandchild. I had forgotten to set this protective device up and 'sexyman2234' contacted me for a chat. I blocked him. It reminded me that controls can be set and limits must be put on our children.

When your child gets off the computer go to the 'history' feature of the browser and see which sites they visited. It is a good strategy, and you are well within your rights to protect your child in your house, with your rules, using your property.

On-line bullying is a more recent problem. The solution for this is to report anything to the abuser's Internet Service Provider (ISP). The ISPs always have rules for fair and moral use and you can usually find an address for this, i.e. abuse@yahoo.com.

Regarding gaming, parents must look for parental guidelines. If children are playing games intended for older kids, they are being exposed to ideas and images too graphic for them to cope with. Many on-line predators exploit children be exposing them to increasingly innocuous things, eventually leading to desensitizing them to ideas and images that are inappropriate.

What is sad is that the recent disappearance of a young Barrie boy keeps emphasizing that the parents cut him off of his X-box activities cold turkey. I hope this does not frighten parents into permitting otherwise inappropriate behaviour. This is an issue about which parents must be vigilant. No child was hurt by hearing the word 'NO'. It builds character and allows a child to know that there are limits to their rights and rules for behaviour. It protects them.

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