Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kids Online Safety

A few weeks ago, LeapFrog sponsored a session about keeping your kids safe online.  As we're starting to let the girls play online once in a while (hey, someone has to care for the Webkins), it's a topic of great interest for us.  So, I dressed up like an adult and headed out to learn something that would help us keep the girls safe as they started their virtual lives. 

Larry Magid, from ConnectSafely.org, started with a startling statement.  He said our kids were safer online than the media lead us to believe.  While online predators made interesting news stories, the reality is it is statistically rare. 

I was shocked.  Every parent I know worries about some stranger trying to make contact with his/her children, but the reality is it doesn't happen all that often.  In fact, it happens so rarely it's hardly worth worrying about at all.

Larry used an interesting PowerPoint deck to illustrate his points.  He leads up to the big moment with a lot of useful information about cyber-safety.  It's really the near the end when he gets into the realities of online predators that a light bulb came on in my head.

As with most things, the greatest threat to the girls will come from people they know.  While I'm not saying we'll let them wander the virtual world unsupervised, I'm focused on how to keep them safe from cyber-bullies more than from cyber-predators. 

It's a mental shift I'm happy to make.  I think it's always safest to have the best and latest research available so you can make the best plans.  Since the girls are young, I know this will soon be a major part of our lives.  I'm glad an expert put us on the right track for cyber-safety.

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