Are cyberbullying and predator risk two big problems or two small ones? If you have considered an internet filter or monitoring service for your kids’ internet use, you may have an opinion on the topic.
According to Larry Magid, they are most likely small problems, or only a problem for a small percentage of kids or teens. When I first read Magid’s Huffington Post article titled Beware of the Internet Safety Industrial Complex I was pretty sure there was some element of trolling in there. He is after all selling page views. I read it again this morning and must admit that I agree with a lot of it.
His central point is that using fear and exaggerating the facts, especially with a goal of selling someone a product or service, is irresponsible and in the case of internet safety products or services can lead parent to adopt measures that are not in the best interests of their children.
A couple of key points that we agree with:
“even if you feel you do need parental-control software or service, it’s important to remember that they are never a substitute for common sense, engaged parenting and — most important — teaching kids to be respectful of others, self-protective and resilient.”
“If we’re going to serve the population that is at risk, we need to develop programs that provide serious intervention. An Internet filter or monitoring program could be part of the solution, but it’s only a small part.”
Taking that last point a step further, we actually think that filters aren’t a long-term solution at all. Kids will figure out a way around them or go to a friend’s house to find what they’re looking for.
A couple of other observations or beliefs of ours that don’t mesh well with the article:
- The potential impact of what your kid does or says on the internet goes beyond predator risk and bullying. College admission – especially when vying for a scholarship, entering the job market, being accused (rightly or wrongly) of bullying and other events could lead others – people in a position of power – to investigate your child’s internet footprint.
- Many parents don’t have the time or resources to be sure that all is well with their child or teen’s internet use. In many cases, teens are more internet savvy than their parents. In our experience a lot of these parents are just hoping that nothing bad is going on.
With the ThirdParent solution, we provide parents with either peace of mind that their child is not dong anything unsafe or untoward, or the tools and information to guide better, safer behavior. Regarding the second quote above, we believe the best solution for teaching positive internet behavior or correcting minors’ actions after something unsafe or improper occurs is to arm the parents with the information they need to do their most important job – raising good, safe kids.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.