I’m turning my blog today over to Kim Komando. She is a nationally syndicated talk show host, focusing on the Internet and digital consumer electronics. Kim and I whole-heartedly believe in protecting children and below she details some very important points parents need to be aware of in this digital age.
It’s Not Easy Being a Good Parent in the Digital Age
I received a call on my national radio show a few weeks ago. A concerned father wanted to know about a particular site on the Internet where his 11-year-old son was chatting online. It seemed harmless. His son created a cartoon-like representation of himself called an avatar.
Dad approved of it. But soon, the son was buying virtual goods for his avatar. Dad took a closer look at what his little boy was about to purchase. Good thing; they were sex toys.
Far too often, parents don’t get involved with their children’s online activities until something bad happens. They dismiss the warning signs. They don’t monitor what the kids are doing because they don’t have the time, their child would never do that, or some other lame excuse.
I am still astounded by the parents who don’t want to invade their child’s privacy. They don’t think it is right to snoop on their child’s Web travels, e-mail and text messages. They usually liken it to reading a teenager’s hidden diary. “No one should do that,” they say.
If only it were that simple.
With the Internet now in our homes and on our phones, this wonderful digital world has brought the inappropriate and criminal elements directly into our lives. What seems harmless and fun can quickly turn into a pedophile’s dream and a parent’s nightmare.
For instance, you may be unaware of Web sites where kids use Webcams. In effect, they broadcast live video and audio from their bedrooms. The people using the live broadcasting sites can watch them. They can leave comments. You can bet pedophiles are watching them, too.
Pedophiles have actually helped kids set up sites. They have arranged credit card acceptance through online payment sites. The children perform sex acts, broadcast with Webcams. The pedophiles pay to watch.
The other day my 8-year-old son Ian received a text-message from his friend John. John wanted to know if he downloaded a particular free game from iTunes. The rule in my home is that before anything gets downloaded, Ian and I learn more about it. I need to approve it.
The game these two boys were talking about had a plot something like this: A convicted felon escapes from prison. He is roaming the streets of downtown Los Angeles. He needs to make money to survive and go on missions. To do this, he has to kill people.
Needless to say, that game didn’t make it onto his phone.
Social-networking sites are less dangerous. But you still have to watch what children say. They have profiles. Be sure they’re not including their phone numbers and addresses.
Again, the best protection is alert parents. Don’t wait for trouble! Be proactive!
Need some help? Here are tips to help you get in front of the issues.
* Find out if sex offenders live in your area http://www.komando.com/kids/tip.aspx?id=2306
* Cell phone plans that put you in control and even tell you where the phone is located http://www.komando.com/kids/tip.aspx?id=3861
* Figure out text messaging lingo http://www.komando.com/kids/tip.aspx?id=3496
* Control kids iTunes use http://www.komando.com/kids/tip.aspx?id=4092
* The free tool that I use to block inappropriate content in my home http://www.komando.com/tips/index.aspx?id=6501
The Kim Komando Show (www.komando.com) is the largest nationally syndicated weekend talk radio show. Kim Komando focuses on the Internet and digital consumer electronics. Komando also distributes the Kim Komando Digital Minute, a one-minute consumer update on digital news.