Family Affair

Survey shows Parents Participation to Protect Kids Online Lacking
by: Jerry Liao

While technology provides us with a lot of advantage in both work and fun, the danger it possess is also increasing. That is why securing our kids or even adults like us is a prime concern of technology providers. Tools are all over. The question is do we have the right tool with us and/or are these tools enough?

I have been preaching since I started my computer career that nothing beats instilling a good moral values to our kids to protect them from the dangers the Internet brings. Majority of websites advicing Internet safety always indicate that parents should be technology literate and should know what their children is doing when they are online. Being knowledgeable is the best protection.

I have been writing about the same for a lot of times, never did I realize that saying it and doing it is a totally different thing until I came across this survey:

A new survey of children’s Internet habits reveals an alarming gap between what parents say they are teaching their children about Internet safety and the reality of what they are doing to ensure their kids are practicing these measures.

While the vast majority of youth (81.3%) say their parents have spoken with them about being safe online, they report few of their parents actually monitor or participate in their online activity. The survey was conducted nationally in August 2007 by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

In summary, the survey found that while young people report their parents have spoken to them about Internet safety, most say their parents don’t surf the Internet with them, don’t ask who they are talking to online, and don’t restrict access to dangerous websites.

The technology explosion has ushered in “Generation I,” the first generation to grow up with the Internet as an integral part of their everyday routine. According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 87 percent of youth ages 12-17 now use the Internet. In many ways, Gen I youth are light years beyond the technological abilities of their parents, presenting a challenge for their parents to keep up with them.

But new technology breeds new threats, making it more important for parents to closely monitor their kids’ online activity. While Gen I youth are privy to a new set of educational tools, they are also exposed to a host of online predators and schemes.

The new BGCA survey revealed some startling statistics:

– Surfing the Net: Over half (52.8%) of kids say that their parents have never surfed the Internet with them. Just 12.2 percent of parents surf the Internet with their children monthly.

– Online Contacts: More than half (53.4%) of the youth surveyed say their parents never so much as inquire who they speak to online. Despite the conversations that parents may have had with children, one-third continue to be allowed access to any Website they so choose – unrestricted by rules or controlled settings.

– Restricting Websites: Two-thirds of children claim that a parent has restricted their online access to certain sites, but a mere 18.1 percent say their parents are always in the room while they are on the Internet.

– Posting Personal Info: In spite of many warnings and incidents, one-fifth of all children still post personal information on social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace) or video-sharing sites (e.g., YouTube).

“There is an inconsistency between how parents intend to protect their children online and the reality of how they are doing that,” says Dan Rauzi, senior director of Technology Programs, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

The survey may be done in America, but I am sure we are not far behind here in the Philippines. Due to the economic situation, both parent are now forced to work just to provide their children a good future. But being busy should not be enough reason for us not to monitor our kids Internet activities.

Another contributor is the proliferation of Internet cafes – cafes that may not have any restrictions that may allow any users to visit any sites they want.

So let me alter a bit my advice to parents out there – telling your kids the things they should not do online is no longer enough – we parents should be more involved, we should be with them, or we should ask questions about their online activities more often. Remember – I said asking and not inquiring, you may sound intimidating and this might discourage our kids to open up.

So parents – DO IT NOW. Better Safe than Sorry.

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