monitor_accessories_info.gifInternet Awareness for Parents & Teens

Text to go with the Slideshow:
A faInternetAwarenessSlideBar1.jpgmous quote from Helen Keller said that "Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature.... Life is either a daring adventure or nothing"
There is no safe, there is only AWARE.

Aware of the pitfalls, the dangers, and what your child is doing online.
The kids who are at most risk for getting in trouble online are already those who are “at risk” teens…but that’s not to say that we should not have an ongoing conversation about cyber ethics with our teens.

Teens will, on their own, be bombarded with objectionable images and websites. It’s what we teach our teens to do when that happens that count.
Do they know strategies for dealing with Internet dangers and how to be ethical users of the web?

Recent studies show that though 14% of kids would meet offline someone they met online, it’s not likely the be the creepy old man
but another kid in their social circle or a “friend of a friend”
That friend of a friend problem is greatest when talking about Facebook. We’ll get to that in a few minutes.

Kids don’t chat randomly online in the teen chat rooms of old. But they do chat with people…sometimes strangers… during Massively multiplayer online role-playing games like PSP, PS3, Xbox, Nintendo DS and Wii.


Games like Call of Duty require in-game chat to coordinate maneuvers.

As does the world of Halo

In fact, World of WarCraft requires certain missions to be completed with the coordination of many players and the in-game chat feature.

What can be alarming is that most of the female avatars in World of WarCraft are actually guys, so young teen males who might hit on them are sometimes drawn into something that is quite different than what they expect and potentially harmful.

Gaiaonline is a virtual world where people join for the different groups that appeal to their varied interests. Players accumulate clothing and accessories and talk with other people about shared interests.

Social Networks and Facebook are not inherently evil, and they’re not likely go away. Though Friendster and Myspace is out…there always will be a place on the web for people to meet and connect.
It’s up to us that kids are using these networks ethically and with caution.
Because of the Federal law: COPPA or the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act …If your kid has a Facebook page and they are under the age of 13….it should be set to private. Frankly, I think all Facebook pages should be set to private. In addition, you should know your kids privacy settings and talk about sharing information with their friends, the world, and “friends of friends”
Friends of friends are not their friend. In fact, most of the cyberbullying that goes on are through friends of friends.

InternetAwarenessSlideBar3.jpgTalk with your kid about what they post on Facebook and why what they post is important.
That what they say - even in a privately controlled Facebook page- can be copied and pasted and passed around and get them into trouble.
They are building their digital footprint right now…ethical Internet use is important from day one because what is posted even once is always able to be found. Even when things are taken down, they can be recovered through certain data retrieval websites like the wayback machine.
Best rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t want your Mom, Dad, Grandma, Principal, Teacher, or a family member to see what you post…
don’t post it.

Built in web cams can also be used inappropriately.
Through free downloadable software like Skype, ooVoo, or Tok-Box kids can talk to other teens and have live video chats. Sometimes they share too much..
Video chats can also be recorded without them knowing it, uploaded to YouTube and passed all around. Some parents have disabled the WebCam feature on their laptops because of this concern.

According to Family Circle magazine, “Nearly half of all teenagers are sending racy text messages to friends on their cell phones, but their moms and dads don't have a clue, a new online survey shows. “Family Circle magazine quizzed kids and their parents about their attitudes toward sex and dating.
And it shows that parents are not as aware as they think they are about their child's sexual activities." Rather than having 'the talk' once, parents should be starting an ongoing dialogue with their teens," said Family Circle's health director, Meg Ragland.
"Parents also need to educate themselves about what is going on in their teen's world as teens are much more likely to listen if you talk to them about sex in an open and honest way.” There’s also the option of getting the teen a cell pone with no built in camera. Every cell phone provider has a selection of functional but not fancy cell phones.
Read more
Have You Checked Your Child's Digital Footprint?
“A digital footprint is the amount of content, whether it be words, photographs, audio, or video, that is traceable back to a given individual.”
We have to encourage our kids to be aware of their own digital footprint. To be mindful of what they post and how they cultivate a good Internet profile so that when they apply to college, or a job, they know how they will be perceived by those people who will be digging for information ...and dig they will.
Kids need to know that embarrassing or inappropriate pictures posted are there online and can be found forever. Again, Social networks are NOT inherently bad and they're not going's more about using ethical & wise choices than being scared of the Bogey man out there - though they exist - it's more likely that teens will be harassed by other teens that they know than some stranger. Sad but true fact, teens who are at-risk in general will most likely be at-risk on the Internet. Read more

If you’re concerned about your kids involvement on the Internet here are a few tips:

Putting the family computer into a main room like the kitchen or the family room is a good thing. Kids knowing that any moment a parent could walk by might keep them from looking into things that are against your rules.

If late night Internet activity is a concern and your kids have laptops and you have a wireless router, keep the router in your bedroom or disconnect the router (unplug & remove) the power cord at bedtime.

If late night texting is a concern or is a problem re-charge family cell phones in YOUR rooms overnight

Kids are really web clever… they sometimes set up innocuous “parent pages” that are not their REAL page.
Know how to search the history of your kids computer and make sure that ANY social network they belong to is set to private.
If you’re very concerned make a requirement that they provide logins and passwords to you for random checks of online correspondence.
There is no 100% secure filter, kids who are web and computer savvy can disable a parent control filter in minutes. It’s the on-going conversation and dialog about these issues that will keep your teen from making bad choices on the web.

It’s all our jobs to keep our kids safe. At home and at school but working together with them and having an open and ongoing dialog is the best thing we can do to ensure our kids
"The most effective, reliable, Internet Safety Filter is an Involved, Informed, and Aware Parent and an Educated and Ethical Kid.”

Thank you!

MHMS Media Center blog postings that talk about
Internet Awareness and give additional web links and resources!
Internet Awareness & Social Networking
Back-to-school advice for safe & ethical social networking

Other Resources:

Back-to-school advice for safe & ethical social networking - CNET News
//Parents//' //Guide to Social Networking// Websites
Social Networking Sites: A Parent’s Guide
//Social Networking// Sites: Safety Tips for Tweens and Teens
Blog Sites, Profile Sites, Diary Sites or Social-Networking Sites
Safe Teens: Texting, Dating, and Safety
NetCetera - In Net Cetera: Chatting With Kids About Being Online, OnGuard Online gives adults practical tips to help kids navigate the online world. - created by the FTC -
For Parents, Teacher Librarians, & Technology Educators: AWESOME FREE Bulk Brochures & Bookmarks for home, schools & libraries!
How far have we come? How have things changed from 2000? 2004? 2006? Check out my VERY DATED Webpage Internet Safety for Parents & Teens
Play the Friend Finder Game! Interactive fun game testing your social networking skillz!

Alarming Statistics: from Teen Internet Safety Survey. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
  • Teens have established significant presence on social networking web pages: 61% of 13- to 17-year-olds have a personal profile on a site such as
  • MySpace, Friendster, or Xanga. Half have also posted pictures of themselves online. What's missing? FACEBOOK...Facebook started in 2006 and didn't make this poll!
  • Older teens (16-17s) and girls especially use the Internet for social interaction, meeting friends, and networking.
  • However, many have also been exposed to the Internet’s accompanying potential risks.
    • 71% reported receiving messages online from someone they don’t know.
    • 45% have been asked for personal information by someone they don’t know.
    • 30% have considered meeting someone that they’ve only talked to online
    • 14% have actually met a person face-to-face they they’ve only spoken to over the Internet (9% of 13-15s; 22% of 16-17s).
  • When teens receive messages online from someone they don’t know, 40% reported that they’ll usually reply and chat with that person.
    • Only 18% said they’ll tell an adult.

Perceptions of Internet Safety:

  • 20% of teens report that it is safe (i.e. “somewhat” or “very safe”) to share personal information on a public blog or networking site.
  • As well, 37% of 13- to 17-year-olds said they are “not very concerned” or “not at all concerned” about someone using information they’ve posted online in ways they don’t want.

Families Talking to Teens about Internet Safety Helps Reduce Some Youth Exposure to Potential Threats and Encourages Safer Online Decisions Among Teens:

  • 33% of 13- to- 17-year-olds reported that their parents or guardians know “very little” or “nothing” about what they do on the Internet.
    • 48% of 16-17s said their parents or guardians know “very little” or “nothing”
  • Fully 22% of those surveyed reported their parents or guardians have never discussed Internet safety with them.
  • On the other hand, 36% of youth—girls and younger teens most notably—said that their parents or guardians have talked to them “a lot” about online safety, and 70% said their parents or guardians have discussed the subject with them during the past year.
  • Fewer teens whose families have talked to them “a lot” about online safety have an IM name or pictures of themselves on the Internet, compared to kids whose families have not talked to them at all. More teens who’ve talked to parents or guardians also ignore messages from unfamiliar people, refuse to reply or chat, block unknown senders, and report these occurrences to trusted adults.
Teen Internet Safety Survey. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children See bottom of the page for resources and research documentation

1: Teenage Research Unlimited. Teen Internet Safety Survey. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Cox Communications, 2006.