If your children know more about technology and computers than you do, this message is for you. If your children or teenagers are nearby, now is the time to usher them out of the room because this is for your eyes only. If it’s not possible to read this in private right now, than be sure to bookmark this page and come back to it when you can read it without ‘inquiring minds’ hovering nearby. You’ll understand why in just a couple of minutes.
Do your young children or teenagers know more about technology and computers than you do? Do you scratch your head in amazement and utter confusion when your children discuss the latest and greatest technological advances that you know nothing about? How about this: Do you really know what your children or teenagers are doing while they are online? If that in itself doesn’t concern or worry you, it should.
Advances in technology play an ever-increasing role in our lives today, with much of it being positive, and it will only increase in the future. While there are great potential benefits with technology and computers for learning and discovery, there is also tremendous opportunity for misuse. According to the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children), “early childhood educators (and parents) carry the responsibility to critically examine the impact of technology on children and be prepared to use technology to benefit children”.
That begs this question: How can the non techno-savvy parent “critically examine the impact of technology” on their children if they are clueless about technology and computers?
Parents may tell their children not to talk to strangers, not to open the door if they are home alone, and not to give out personal information to persons unknown. Parents often keep track of where their children are, who their friends are and where they live, etc. However, many parents do not understand or realize that this same attentiveness and supervision must include critical examination and supervision while their children and teenagers are online.
Children and teenagers are not protected by a parents assumption that online service providers are supervising and regulating what goes on in “chat rooms”, “news groups”, or social networking sites like MySpace. Websites like MySpace “require” users to be at least fourteen years old to join, however there is no way that MySpace can verify the truthfulness of age. Therefore, someone who is well into their 30’s or even 50’s and older can easily pretend to be someone in your child’s age group and communicate with your child.
Educate yourself-Recently a news story was published about a young girl named Megan who was a victim of online bullying, which unfortunately lead her to commit suicide rather than continue struggling through this horrific ordeal. I dare say that if her parents’ were closely monitoring and supervising Megan’s online activities with the tremendous help of commercially available computer monitoring software, Megan would likely be alive today and her tormentors in jail where they belong.
“Get It? Got It? Good!” is a free download booklet on the topic “family guide on getting to grips with technology”. It’s an extremely useful booklet offered by a children‘s charity called NCH, full of information for the techno-challenged parent. You may even want to print off several copies for family and friends, or email them the link so they can benefit as well.
With personal effort and practice, parents can do much to ensure their children’s safety, and hopefully this has been a wake up call for you.