by John Pecoraro
Assistant Director, Manhattan Public Library
Is the Internet safe for my children? This is the question most parents want answered. Parents, grandparents, and caregivers all want to keep their children safe wherever they are and whatever they are doing. That certainly includes online. But it’s a jungle out there. Stories of online predators, identity thieves, cyberbullies, and child pornographers fill the daily news. Where can adults turn to find resources for keeping their children safe online?
Start at the public library. There are several books available that can assist parents anxious about the online safety of their children.
“Talking Back to Facebook: A Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age,” by James P. Steyer offers parents essential tools to help filter content, preserve good relationships with their children, and make common sense, value-driven judgments for kids of all ages. This comprehensive, no-nonsense guide to the online world, media, and mobile devices is a must-have for all parents and educators raising kids in today’s digital age.
It’s no secret that the availability of the Internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect children from some of the more unsavory aspects of adult life. In “The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age,” renowned clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair offers insights and advice to help parents achieve greater understanding, authority, and confidence in confronting the technology revolution unfolding in their living rooms.
Students are doing their homework online at a younger age than ever before. The social lives of teens, as well as children, has exploded with possibilities for self-expression and connection through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. How can parents make sure their children’s online experiences are appropriate? Judy Hauser explains how parents can make sure the Internet doesn’t pass them by in “The Web and Parents: Are You Tech Savvy?”
Parents of children in grades K-4 might consider “Timon and Pumbaa Safety Smart Online!” part of the “Disney’s Wild about Safety” series. In this 12-minute DVD, Timon and Pumbaa learn they need more than a computer or a game console to surf the Web; they need safety smarts. Kids have fun learning about the importance of protecting their personal information, how to be responsible digital citizens, and what to do if they are bullied.
As their children and teens race down the onramp to the Information Superhighway, many parents may feel left in the dust. “Cyber-safe Kids, Cyber-savvy Teens: Helping Young People Learn to Use the Internet Safely and Responsibly,” by Nancy E. Willard provides parents with essential strategies to keep children and teens safe online, as well as offering practical parenting strategies necessary to help children and teens learn to use the Internet safely and responsibly. This book is a must-read for anyone concerned with the critical issue of children’s internet safety and what to do about it.
“It’s Complicated: the Social Lives of Networked Teens,” by Danah Boyd is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand young people’s use of social media.
This eye-opening book answers the question, “What is new about how teenagers communicate through services such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?”
June was Internet Safety Month. There is an abundance of websites of information about Internet safety useful to parents and caregivers. Safekids.com http://www.safekids.com/safety-advice-tools/, for example, discusses digital citizenship, online safety, and civility, while offering advice and tools on a variety of online issues. Other practical sites include GetNetWise http://kids.getnetwise.org/ which features an online safety guide, and links to kid-friendly websites.
Family Friendly Sites http://familyfriendlysites.com/ is a directory of sites intended to support the online safety of family members using the Internet. Kid Friendly Search Sites: http://www.kidfriendlysearch.com/ is another directory of kid appropriate websites. Safe Internet Surfing http://www.safesurfingkids.com/ is dedicated to helping families surf the Internet with awareness, safety, and knowledge.
The library fulfills the requirements of both the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Kansas Children’s Internet Protection Act. Public computers in the Children’s area are equipped with blocking technology that is designed to filter objectionable content. While adult card holders can choose to disable the filtering software on computers in other areas of the library, our younger patrons don’t have that option. Parents can rest assured that their children can surf safely at the library.