It’s the first day of school and all the parents are celebrating!
The kids? Not so much…
The new school year brings a lot of new gadgets in play and parents need to understand that the new capabilities these devices bring also include dangers.
Let’s take a look at Back-To-School Tech Safety with regards to small devices!
CELL PHONES: First off, it seems like every child has a cell phone, usually a better one than Mom and Dad have. That makes a little sense, sort of, since the kids understand how to use all those features while Mom and Dad are still trying to figure out voice mail. Therein lies the danger:
Many parents do not even know the capabilities of these devices!
Smart phones, for the most part, have full Internet connectivity. That means that:
- They can surf the web.
- Many can serve as mobile “hotspots” for WIFI-enable devices, such as laptops and iPods
- They can access anything a computer can
- They can trade files back and forth
Because of this, parents need to check with their cell phone provider to see what PARENTAL CONTROLS are available. Some providers offer the capability to filter out adult-oriented material (often for an extra charge). This is very dynamic and so parent need to contact their provider to see what their current offerings include.
This also is a good reason to go with one of the major cell phone suppliers. Since they require adults to own the “account”, even if there is no contract, then the parent retains some level of control. If the child is using a pay-as-you-go provider then the parent may not have that control. Plus, the provider may not even offer PARENTAL CONTROLS.
Parents may also want to look at installing Internet filters on smart phones. The problem is that, in my opinion, these technologies are not yet cost-effective and are easily defeated. Instead, rely on provider-based filtering.
One other area of concern with cell phones is sexting. In fact, an article just 3 days ago (19 Aug 2011) said that sexting was parents’ #1 concern as kids returned to school.
What IS sexting? Sexting is sending erotic text message, pictures, and/or videos via cell phones.
The dangers associated with sexting are HUGE:
- Electronic files are FLUID and can spread, literally, at the speed of light, to EVERYONE AT SCHOOL!
- Once created and sent, they are next to impossible to destroy/recall.
- Pictures and videos created today, if they “escape into the wild” are on the Internet FOR YEARS. (I’ve seen “candid camera videos” from the 1990′s online!)
- Such pictures/videos can result in social persecution and ruin. (I’ve known families who have had to move!)
- Some teens have actually committed suicide over sexting persecution/misuse.
- Teens are still developing, physically and emotionally, and sexting adversely impacts their developing sexualities.
- Depending on the laws of your state and community, sexting may run afoul of child pornography laws.
Parents need to talk frankly and seriously with children about the dangers of mis-using cameras and cell phones. Teens, by nature, do not consider the consequences of their actions and they need to be made aware of the LONG TERM impact that their actions with TODAY’s technologies will have on their future.
E-READERS: More and more books are being read electronically, either via dedicated e-readers, such as Kindle or Nook, or on tablets and computers using software such as the iBook, Kindle, or Nook apps. In fact, some schools are shifting to electronic textbooks! The problem is that the various “stores” for these devices carry the gamut of literature from children’s books to hardcore erotica. In fact, there is considerable erotica that is made available FREE. So, parents need to take some simple steps to protect their children:
- Parents should set up the accounts for these devices so that all “purchase receipts” are e-mailed to the parent’s e-mail address.
- Parents should regularly review children’s “libraries” online, to include the “archive” sections, to see what children are loading on their e-readers.
- Children’s online accounts should, to the greatest extent possible, only use gift cards. This limits both their purchases and their vulnerability to hackers. Both iTunes and Kindle permit gift card-only accounts.
There are many great tools and gadgets that kids can use, today. Many were not even dreamed of when we were kids, not even by Mr. Spock!
Smart parents will take the time to learn as much as they can about what their children’s gadgets can do and will sit down with their children to discuss safe and proper use of these tools.
It can prevent a lot of problems, and create some wonderful teachable moments, too!
Well, that’s Part II on BACK-TO-SCHOOL TECH SAFETY. You can find Part I HERE.
Share your tips/tricks by leaving a comment!
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- iTunes – What Parents Need To Know… Part I – What All Is Available
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- Living Pure In An Impure World: Defense
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