We are living in the era of Web 2.0 with interactive Web sites that allow users to contribute content. But what is Web 2.0 and what does it mean for our kids? Web 2.0 is the name given for the second generation of the Internet where individuals can create and upload any content they want to the World Wide Web. That means that there is a vast amount of information for your kids to find. The thought of protecting them from everything on the Web can be overwhelming. Fortunately kids are no different today than when you were growing up. They still go through a phase of finding their identity and they still look for ways to express themselves. Most likely you know how to handle and parent the experiences that you went through growing up. Your kids are going through the same things; the only difference is the location. However, many parenting techniques translate over to the Web.
While kids may be more knowledgeable about the Internet than their parents, you are not facing a losing battle. There are a few things that you as parents can do to safeguard your kids. The bottom line: Don’t get so caught up in the overwhelming information on the Internet that you forget to be a parent! The best thing you can do is instill your values in your kids every opportunity you get.
The Web provides kids a plethora of information at their fingertips, but it also exposes them to a lot of things you might not want them to see. Here is a list of things you can do:
Many search engines now have filtering options that work the same way as filtering software. There are also search engines designed for younger kids like Yahooligans! and Ask Jeeves for Kids. These are great resources for kids to use when doing homework.
This is a tricky subject to monitor as a parent. The entire media world is changing right in front of our eyes. There are several music artists who prefer to offer their music at a “name your price” rate rather than through traditional means. There are also many file sharing programs where people can share different forms of media both legally and illegally. Fortunately, most acceptable sites require a credit card to purchase music and videos. As a parent this gives you more control over what you let your kids download.
Talk to your kids about the subject; find out what they think about the entertainment industry. Do they think file sharing is wrong?
Video networks are Web sites that allow users to upload and share video content with any Internet user. Unfortunately, video network sites are the least regulated in terms of security settings, though that world is changing. The best thing you can do for your child who wants to use a video network is to have them register. Restricted access is granted to minors. Also other registered members have the ability to flag potentially questionable content (a positive force of Web 2.0).
Instant message, e-mail, blogs, chat rooms; there are so many forms of communication on the Internet. It can be hard to keep track of who your kids are talking to on the Web. While you cannot watch their every key stroke, there are a few guidelines you can give your kids so that their communications via the Internet are safe and friendly.
Social networks are Web sites on the Internet where people can create profiles on a Web page that is accessible to other users in the social network. Social networks are most popular, not surprisingly, with teenagers and young adults. The top two social networks are MySpace and Facebook.
Privacy has become a huge issue on social networking sites, but kids are using more discretion than you would think. There are new privacy settings on Facebook and MySpace, not to mention many more privacy settings for your personal page. Like anything else on the Web it is important to talk to your kids. It may be difficult to stop them from using social networking sites, but you can use this as an opportunity to discuss your values.
MySpace Privacy Settings - For starters, you must be 14 years old to have a page on MySpace, and if you are under 16 your page can only be listed as private. If you are under 18 you cannot access mature groups. MySpace utilizes a lot of intuitive search agents that help them establish these safeguards. Additionally advertisements for tobacco or alcohol products are not viewable by underage users. They have also set up an over/under blocking feature which means that if you are under 18 you can block users over 18 from viewing your profile.
Facebook Privacy Settings - Facebook is based on a series of networks so you have to belong to a network in order to view profiles of other members. All members can have a limited profile that the average viewer sees while network members see a fuller profile. Facebook also allows you to block certain people from accessing your profile at all.
Since there is such a buzz right now over social networking Web sites, this is a big area of opportunity to be a nosey parent. If you would ask your child about their school friends why wouldn’t you ask them about their MySpace friends? If you wouldn’t let your daughter wear a short skirt to school would you let her post a photo of herself in a short skirt on Facebook? Here are some guidelines you can use: