Friday, February 8, 2008

“In automobile terms, the child supplies the power but the parents have to do the steering.” Benjamin Spock

Recently a friend told me about a series that was missed on my radar. Apparently Frontline the PBS series has done a several part investigative series called Growing up Online. I have read many sites that promote it as a way to teach children about online safety. I believe this view is a bit skewed. Kids are learning about internet safety as part of the curriculum and they are being taught it earlier and earlier. So who is this for? The parents seem to be the easy answer. Parents should watch this and take notes. Unfortunately the series does not stress strategies but focuses on stories and different ways families have dealt with it. When it comes to the internet I choose to view it just like a car given to a teen. You teach them and try to influence them with good decisions but at a certain point they are going to get behind the wheel. You have to hope you have instilled wisdom and intelligence. As you watch this series you see the way parents who are so watchful for something to happen drive their children away and you also see the parents who do not realize there is a concern and what are the results. When I watched it I came away with one overall message. These children who grow up online are not victims put participants in an online world. Ask a kid what they do when they get an unsolicited friend request. They know how to handle that situation. The problem for them is in knowing when what they are doing has crossed a line. Watch the entire series from their site. It is cut into 6 digestible chunks. This is not a give it a try situation. It is more must situation. Become smartly informed instead of scared by nightly news media broadcasts. The internet is part their world in the same way a phone or eventually a car will be. Ignoring this is a disaster. Talk to your kids and be smarter for watching this!

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