Tag Archives: computer use

Keep Your Kid From Being Victimized Online

Study uncovers solutions that may help kids be less likely to be victimized online

Just mention two words: “Online Predator” to a parent and be prepared for a full-blown panic attack. Few things are more terrifying than envisioning our kids being recruited for sexual relationships by some unseen force. Though we can ever fully protect our kids, one study gives parents critical information that just may help us stop the unthinkable.

The recent study was conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire. The researchers extensively interviewed 3,000 kids 10 to 17 years old who are Internet users as well as 612 federal, state and local law enforcement officials. The data was analyzed uncovering surprising data that every parent needs to know. The study provides insightful information on how we can protect our children. Though no child is one hundred percent safe from online stalking, it appears that some children appear to be – at least from this study– far more at risk.

  • Biggest surprise: For the most part it appears online predators target specific children.
  • Prime on an online predator’s list: Kids who are more vulnerable. (Reread that last line carefully).
  • The most vulnerable youth to online predators are those with lower-self esteem. It appears that predators specifically prey on kids who lack strong identity or have a weaker social network of their own. (Which is what research also shows about offline bullying).
  • The predator looks for kids already vulnerable and then entices them by offering a romantic relationship.

7 traits of youth found to be most at risk by an online predator

Here are some of the highlights from the study and a few recommendations as to how we can take a more preventative approach to stopping this horrific crime against our children. Children who are most vulnerable:

  1. Have past histories of sexual or physical abuse
  2. Engage in patterns of risky off- or online behavior
  3. Frequent chatrooms
  4. Talk online about sex
  5. Divulge personal information online
  6. Do not have strong, healthy relationships with their parents
  7. Are boys who are gay or questioning their sexual orientations

Using those social networks like Facebook or MySpace does not make kids more susceptible to online predators.

What does increase a child’s danger: Frequenting chatrooms, giving out personal information and talking online to unknown people about sex. (I know you’ve heard that over and over again…but if you haven’t reminded your child about that rule, PLEASE put it on your “to do” list for today…and tomorrow..and the next …)

5 important take aways from this research

  • Watch out for those chatrooms. Tell your child that if you ever walk by that computer and see him cover up that screen, the computer plug will be pulled and he loses the privilege–end of argument. Tips to Keep Kids Safer Online]

These are scarier times to be raising kids, but if we stay a bit more computer savvy, set clear rules about that computer, and more involved in our kids lives we can reduce the online predator risk and our parent panic. Perhaps the most important take away: Though there are no guarantees, the more involved you are in your child’s life, the less likely (according to this research) your child will be victimized.

Now go talk to your kid!

Taken from Micheleborba.com
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Social Media Site Specifically for Kids

We at Momsense are not sure what we think of this. Do they really need this type of computer activity already? Especially when studies show they spend too much time in front of computers and tv as it is and are raising the obesity rate. But you read, you decide.

Mandeep Singh Dhillon’s son, Zoraver, learned how to take pictures of himself with his father’s computer when he was four years old, and he immediately wanted to share the results with relatives online. Mr. Dhillon liked the idea of his son developing skills at an early age that he would use for a lifetime, but was also hesitant to let Zoraver loose on the open Internet. He began working on an alternative.

Three years later the result is Togetherville, a social networking site intended for use by children between the ages of six and 10 and their parents. It aims to keep children safe from cyberbullying and other online dangers while allowing them to become comfortable with online interaction. The site, which has been in private beta for several months, was opened to the public on Tuesday night.

Togetherville allows parents to build a social circle for their children based on their own collection of Facebook friends. The children can then interact with the children of their parents’ friends, and specific adults that their parents have chosen, in a semi-private environment. The content on the site is curated, so children can play games, make art projects and watch or share videos, but everything they have access to has been vetted in advance, Mr. Dhillon said. Children can comment on their friends’ posts directly through drop-down menus of preselected phrases. If a user wants to say something that is not on the list, he can submit a request that it be added.

Mr. Dhillon said this type of interaction helps children develop social skills that they can’t get from virtual worlds like Club Penguin, which protect children by having them act only through anonymous avatars.

“We teach kids from a very early age, never let your identity be online, never let anyone know who you are, but we’re teaching some bad things,” he said. “Kids don’t learn how to be accountable.”

Mr. Dhillon said the site, which has about 10 employees, would not charge a subscription or carry advertising, and that it would rely at least in part on parents giving their children allowances to buy virtual merchandise. The business model is not entirely clear, said Ann Miura-Ko, a partner at Floodgate, the site’s main investor. The site’s market is a potentially lucrative one, though.

“Once you have parents and their children operating on the same system there are a lot of opportunities,” Ms. Miura-Ko said. Floodgate was also an early investor in Twitter and Digg.

Mr. Dhillon is pushing Togetherville not just as a business but also as a social tool. He has enlisted the help of various people who work on online safety issues. Stephen Balkam, chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute, is one of those who has been advising Mr. Dhillon. He said that he thought the site could keep younger children off of Facebook, where they are more likely to find inappropriate content and are less protected from potentially harmful interactions with strangers or bullies.

But Vicky Rideout, who wrote a recent large-scale study of children’s media use for the Kaiser Family Foundation, is skeptical of the claim that Togetherville will be a useful educational tool, saying there is no data to suggest a demand from children under 10 for more social media. She also dismissed the idea that children need an intermediary step toward unrestricted online networking.

“From the child’s perspective, I’m not sure what the benefit is,” she wrote in an e-mail message. “Believe me, kids will learn how to use technology and media when the time comes.”

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