Friday, February 23, 2007

Teaching Kids To Be Cyber-Smart

So they can become cyber-leaders for their peers.

Some parents rush to get their infants on a look-at-all-my-money kind of pre-school waiting list. Mostly so they can slap the bumper sticker for that particular school onto their green Suburban as soon as possible, but not quite covering-up the SSI or the Lovett stickers from the older kids, of course. But I diverge...

Me, about as soon as the pregnancy test turned blue, I not only rushed to the phone for the pre-school, but immediately registered a domain name in my child's name. Then I didn't think much about it all, her being moreorless a milk-swillin' blob for what seemed like decades for a few sleep-deprived months, way back when.

Fast forward seven years to real-time reality and I've found (former) milk-swillin' blob surfing sites I never knew existed, typically trying to find video on any Harry Potter movie, or a Bridge To Terabithia or Fire House Dog vid after having seen the trailer just a few hours ago at the "movie sitter", as opposed to the typical DVD at home. (Text-heavy sites are not even on the radar, and I seriously doubt they ever will be for the Born Year 2000 gen.)

It's only a matter of time before she's on MySpace. She already wants her own YouTube channel, but I don't think you can even sign-up a seven-year old for one of those. Not honestly that is.

At least one friend has had to involve the police over a Mean Girls On MySpace incident that involved her household. The kids in this particular "event" were all about 12. Twelve!

Getting to the point here, as cyber-savvy as Dear 'Ole Mom here is, I still feel my child could slip through even my clutch-y grasp online, even if I do stare over her shoulder 24/7 which I already do, well... mostly, even in our own home.

Vaspers over on The Grate has some critical questions to ask, and statements about cyber-bullies, that anyone with a computer, a modem and an almost-ready-for-prime-cyber-time kid unit should be asking now. A sampling:

Parents and teachers need to prepare children for blogocombat. I recently watched a news program on television, about a young boy who killed himself because some mean kids at school were calling him "gay" and "sissy boy" in a chat room that the child was addicted to.

Why would any child be so masochistic, that they would obsessively visit a chat room that was abusive to and victimizing them? To defend themselves? To attempt to answer every new allegation? To try to win people over to his side?

Why don't we ask ourselves what kind of parents and teachers we are?

Why do we shun our responsibility and let our young people run wild in the web, "do anything they want" on the computer, without any supervision, guidelines, or preparation for the evil they are bound to encounter sooner or later?

And what about when a child goes to a friend's house? And maybe Friend has Not-So-Cyber-Savvy, Kinda Clueless Parentals? Should I ask, as one might ask about guns in an unknown (to you) person's home, about what level of cyber-awareness exists in that household? And how could you do so without insulting their, no doubt otherwise, fine intelligence?

Lordy, lordy, lordy. If the traffic doesn't get us all around here, the relentless pursuit of progress surely will.

1 comment:

steven edward streight said...

Thank you for linking to my little post on blogocombat training and cyber bully response strategies.

I have many good answers, but wanted to begin to list the questions we must deal with first.

Google "cyber bully" and see all the fine articles out there. Yet not as many as Britney Spears or World of Warcraft or Harry Potter hits.

Sad that adults are leaving kids to fend for themselves in such rough waters full of sharks and torpedoes.