Computers can be a terrific educational tool, and the internet makes the ability to learn and explore our world almost limitless. These learning opportunities are available to everyone and there is (usually) no charge. What a great opportunity! But, then, we also need to know what dangers are out there lurking.
So many kids put their names, photos, and even addresses on My Space,Facebook, and other teenage internet spaces and then get into trouble with predators. Some recent studies show that approaching two-thirds of all teenagers have an online profile, and over one-third all of “kids” have been exposed to unwanted sexual material online.
These issues are starting to become so prevalent that public service organizations, schools, local law enforcement, and even the FBI have become involved in efforts to help make the internet safer for our young people. State and Federal governments are beginning to pass laws regarding privacy and information regarding minors (under 18). The FCC now has guidelines and the authority to enforce them.
What can we do to help our children? First, supervision, household discussions, and general household awareness of the issues. Recently there are a number of computer monitoring software programs designed to reduce the amount internet dangers.
We can also look for other signs of “issues” beginning. We can pay attention to our phone and credit card bills for unusual activity which could indicate a problem. We can watch for signs of grades slipping, or unknown absences from school. Many of these signs could be very similar to what we see at the beginning of drug or alcohol use.
The number one thing we can do is communicate with our children regarding the very real dangers that exist. Parental guidance, support, supervision and communication go a long way toward heading off the dangers that are lurking. Please help us to help our youth. Thank you.
Members of our Daggett Shuler Team speak frequently to school groups, youth groups, and parent groups on internet safety. We are available in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, High Point, Burlington, and throughout the Triad area of North Carolina. Please contact us if you are interested in a presentation for your group.