According to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation survey, kids ages 8 to 18 spent a little more than 7 1/2 hours per day using “digital” entertainment. And consequently, parents are struggling to stay on top of their kid’s online habits.
For example, a growing trend among teens is to create and manage two Facebook accounts. One account is provided to parents. To that account, teens add family members, close friends, and act civilly. With a second account, not disclosed to parents, teens add anyone as a friend, can speak “openly” and can engage in behavior they don’t want mom to know about. It becomes a new universe to explore privately.
Facebook’s policy requires users to be 13-years-old to create an account, but some underage children create an account anyways. The problem with kids ages 11-13 is that many of them don’t know how to appropriately use a social network like Facebook. They tend to post anything and everything, and friend anyone and everyone.
Problems arise with inexperienced social networkers. For example, cyber bullying has increased. In fact, 30% of young Facebook users have had bad experiences in the United Kingdom.
Whether receiving invitations to meet strangers or being exposed to indecent photographs, it happens, and will continue unless parents get involved. Parents need to stay aware of their children’s online activity. Software tools like Net Nanny allow parents to see what their children are viewing on the Internet. Net Nanny will also send alerts to parents whose children are being groomed by potential online predators or threatened by cyberbullies.
Russ Warner is President & CEO of ContentWatch, maker of the top-rated desktop and mobile web filter Net Nanny (www.netnanny.com). He is used as an expert source in the national press on a regular basis and speaks regularly on the topic of Internet Safety. Warner was most recently asked to speak at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on what parents can do to help their children navigate the digital age. Under Warner’s leadership, ContentWatch leads an ongoing Internet safety campaign and has conducted seminars for the local Utah media, the Utah Coalition Against Pornography, and numerous schools.