Jun 04 2012

Teens and the Internet: Social Media or behavioral risk?

Thinking about my Saturday, June 2, post, Blogging is Good for Teens, TennisMama, FatCat and I started Commenting about Facebook and the minimum age for signing up. Turns out, as FatCat stated, thirteen year olds can have Facebook accounts. Wow! I didn’t expect that.

So, I started nosing around, finding what’s out there by doing searches on BlogHer and Google. I wanted to discover what is available for working with children and teens on the Internet social media sites.

Protecting children is easier when they’re
physically and emotional dependent, but….

First, I checked BlogHer. Right away I found Kimberly’s post from February titled, “Mistakes Rookie Moms Might Make when helping Teens Navigate Facebook.” Wowser, was that an eye-opener. So much to learn and so little time before little fingers become bigger fingers able to type on a keyboard.

Click on the image to download this PDF.

Then I found a handy-dandy resource, The Parent’s Guide to Facebook, a great PDF with TONS of information you can download right here. This PDF is published and available on two very helpful sites set up to instruct parents on Internet supervision on the mobile and fixed Internet. Connect Safely says, “Smart Socializing Starts Here,” while the I Keep Safe Coalition encourages Digital Citizenship, “to see generations of the world’s children grow up safely using technology and the Internet.”

BlogHers are not the only ones aware of the changes in the way we reach out, relate to each other electronically and gather new information. Two new books caused The Washington Post to feature an article showcasing how we relate to the Internet and to each other.

New Books

The Post comments, “Net Smart,” arrives at the same time as a similarly minded title that is more narrowly focused on parenting in the digital age. James P. Steyer founded the San Francisco-based nonprofit organization Common Sense Media with the aim of helping parents figure out how to responsibly usher children into the digital era; his new book, “Talking Back to Facebook,” shares that goal.”

The book, “Talking Back to Facebook” helps parents
monitor their children in the Internet adult world.

The Post article continues, “To grab the reader’s attention, both authors put forward an array of startling numbers and statistics about our digital habits. The average 15-year-old receives nearly 3,500 texts a month, we learn from Steyer. On YouTube, Rheingold tells us, 35 hours of video clips are uploaded every minute.”

Wow! That’s hard for me to believe. All of that time focused on a screen, virtually experiencing life, rather than being in the real world. To me it’s like thinking there’s no reason to visit the Grand Canyon because one can got to the Internet and visit the National Parks web site. But, on the other hand, if that’s where our children are mentally, emotionally and socially, we need to know about it.

As time consuming as it is to hover, it is easier to
monitor Internet usage than clean up a bad situation.

What a sobering prospect this is. There is an avalanche of negative influence out there in cyberspace.  Any part of it can easily enter our children and infect our home lives. As I read in Kimberly’s article, even a slight default in supervising access to friends and strangers, can result in invasive harm. Hopefully, these web sites, books and articles will provide tools for enriching, rather than injurious, family Internet experiences.

Well, it’s always something.

I know I feel better armed to deal with it all.

How about you?

   

NaBloPoMo June 2012

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