SELECTED ARTICLE
Author
Peter R Smithson 
Article Title
Can your parents protect you from the net? 
Posted Date
8/20/2010 

Often on the news we hear how vital it is to protect our children from the Prospective dangers the Internet and using a computer can cause. We now live in a society where social networking sites like facebook, myspace and twitter are the norm.

Further from that, these sites are now used to market or advertise different trial or products and services and our country is now reliant on them too. So the question is, with all of these internet based community networking sites becoming such an important and common part of our day to day being, how is a parent meant to protect their children from the potential dangers when the child knows more than them about how it operates.

Currently we have millions of children using computers without parent management because, quite simply, computers were not around in their day or their learning is not to the same level as their childrens. How can we expect parents to guide their children using computers when they cant use them themselves Will this just be a short-term difficulty until the current school age generation become parents and should hopefully have a alike computer competence as their kids?

Something else to consider is whether parents even think there is a risk to their children using a computer unsupervised.. It is very easy to get sucked into providing a lot of your personal information to a social networking site on line. There has been a lot of attention on facebook regarding its privacy settings and whether they are good enough It takes no time to set up an account on facebook but it will take a lot longer to check the privacy settings you have. There are pages of choices to choose from but my estimation is that no kids are going to look into those sorts of things when they are more interested in getting as many contacts as they can. So as a parent it is your duty to make sure they have a page set up correctly (this is assuming that you know your kid even has a face book account).

The sad part is that the settings which are so important are also the hardest part for a parent to get their head around. At the end of the day we are responsible for our own kids, what they get up to and who they do it with. However, the virtual world that these sites fashion is something parents have little control over because they simply dont understand it and most kids could probably come up with an reason that seems valid as to why they want to be able to use the site. You don't want to deny your son access to the Internet so he can explore the photos his mates posted of the rugby game they won last week. Just like you don't want to tell your daughter she can't follow her preferred singer on twitter.

So what is the answer? Maybe we should have some seminars at schools where kids go with their parents so they can learn how to use the sites together. Should the government do more as far as having a supervisory body over these sorts of sites similar to chat rooms? It is hard to explain to a teenager that being cautious about who knows your business is more important than how many friends you have. Another point to take into account is that even though you might have done the right thing by your kids and made sure that they have fixed privacy settings, if one of their friends doesnt, then all of your hard work is out the window. We have all understood of the six degrees of separation? Your information is potentially on hand to anyone on the Internet unless you are careful. At the end of the day the more we take an curiosity in these things as parents, we will hopefully be able to get across the importance of protecting yourself online.

References
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