"SafeKids/NetFamilyNews" 3/24/06 issue

  • From: Educational CyberPlayGround <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Tue, 28 Mar 2006 10:54:01 -0500

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Educational CyberPlayGround

Admins, Parents & Teachers Learn How to Keep Your Child
Safe on the Interent -- Trouble Areas for Kids

Find out what your kids have put up online, their names,
address, pictures, what they think. This needs to be
supervised and you won't be able to keep up with
what is going on here. Chat Rooms, Blogs, Instant
Messaging, IRC, Newsgroups - they don't understand
that they have gone public and have lost their privacy.

RSS NEWS FEEDS Updated Daily Area


Internet Education Foundation, of GetNetWise.org fame, recently made
an admirable stab at lining up all the ratings systems visually
(here's the chart <http://www.neted.org/dialogue/ratings/chart.shtml>
and the intro <http://www.neted.org/dialogue/ratings/>). Parents might
find it helpful. [IEF did insist that I tell you it's "very much a
work in process" and they welcome feedback (email Charles - cwillson
at neted.org).]

Take music videos as an example. They're on video MP3 players, in Web
sites, on iTunes, and even on some cellphones. Yet, music (from
audio-only songs to music videos) is rated for its lyrics ­ if there's
no profanity in a song but its video is sexually explicit, the
profanity-free rating serves no one.

Another problem: There is no central technical or software-code
standard that lines music ratings up with the MPAA's film ratings or
the ESRB's game ratings. Cellphone companies are working on ratings,
too, but just for content on cellphones (see eWeek, 11/05
<http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1895,1885912,00.asp>). Some game
players, such as Xbox 360 and PlayStation Portable have parental
controls, but they are only for those devices, and the gaming industry
has game ratings at ESRB.org, but Xbox 360 connects to the Web and
plays other media besides games. The device is highly "convergent,"
but its parental controls aren't. There is no "convergence" where
ratings are concerned ­ each set really only applies to a single
medium, like film. Ratings are now an inadequate, old-paradigm, Web 1.0 tool.

Another such "consumer anxiety" tool, filtering software, is really
still all about text ­ text in Web sites or in "descriptors" (the
labels that song or video files are tagged with) on computers, not
video or audio (image filters are coming along but still not
ubiquitous). Yet, as more and more homes have multi-computer networks
and broadband connections, the Web is very multimedia and of course
not just on computers. There is some operating-system-level filtering
on Mac OS X computers and coming with Microsoft's next Windows version
(called "Vista" ­ its release delay announced this week
.html>), but the Mac version is barely adequate (one colleague who
tested it told me it's "useless"). There is router-based filtering
with products like Netopia (see my 4/9/04 feature
<http://netfamilynews.org/resourcesfilters0404.htm>), but that's just
for computers on a home network ­ not phones, Net-connected game
players, video iPods. And, more recently, an innovative security
consultant and mom, ELI, Inc. CEO Susan Lutz, unveiled a turnkey PC-
and child-security product for the home
<http://www.netfamilynews.org/nl050909.html#1>, but again just for
computers and more about PC security than kids' safety (though Susan
said they're working on it).

Web 2.0 is every bit as nerve-wracking for parents as it is for
businesses. Let's hope executives, software writers, and reporters
will start wearing their parent hats at work too. There's no total
security solution for kids besides their parents. That's a good thing,
actually, and probably should always be the case, but there are times
when it helps to have some tech aids. So now ­ right when confusion is
running high and parents need more help than ever ­ the tools are less
helpful than ever. It'll be fascinating to see what happens when
Internet and media companies start feeling "consumer anxiety" too.
I'll keep you posted.

Related articles

* "Porn 'tidal wave' puts parents to test" in USATODAY

* "Up Front: The Next Internet Breakthrough(s): Think the Web has
already changed everything? Just you wait" - PC World on "the planet's
biggest PC" (the Web)

+ = + = + = +

Web News Briefs

1. Kids too wired?

That's a question being asked in Time magazine's cover story this
week, "The Multitasking Generation"
Because the whole story isn't available to nonsubscribers of Time, I'm
glad CNN provides a summary
<http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/03/19/time.cover.story/>. We all know
that, in many cases, "by the time many kids get to college, their
devices have become extensions of themselves, indispensable social
accessories." But the summary seems to be saying that it's not so much
the technology as their "highly scheduled lives" and related pressures
that's the bigger problem. It's "important for parents and educators
to teach kids, preferably by example, that it's valuable, even
essential, to occasionally slow down, unplug and take time to think
about something for a while," according to CNN. Don't miss what
Sudbury, Massachusetts, psychiatrist and author Edward Hallowell says
in the very last paragraph of CNN's summary.
I think he's nailed it. [Time's sidebar, "A dad's encounter with the
vortex of Facebook"
offers a readable, balanced perspective.] Then there's a ClickZ.com
<http://www.clickz.com/experts/ad/lead_edge/article.php/3592366> on a
new study by BBDO Energy of 13-to-18-year-old "super-connectors":
"They want the world to conform to their views, meaning
personalization and customization are imperatives, not nice-to-have
extras. They want conversations in the world of many-to-many, not
broadcast dictums from on high."

Brain Development What is Healthy?

2. Teens 'crave' contact with parents: Study

There's a certain credibility to the results of a survey of 46,000
respondents! Boys & Girls Clubs of America has just unveiled its
"Youth Report to America"
<http://www.bgca.org/news/documents/YouthReportToAmerica.pdf>, "the
largest national survey developed and administered by teens," BGCA's
press release says <http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060316/nyth015a.html>.
A number of news outlets highlighted what the 13-to-18-year-old
respondents said about their relationship with their parents (of
significance in the online-safety field), on p. 5 of the survey:
"Today's youth maintain very close ties to their parents," BGCA says,
with such findings as: 37% of respondents saying their relationship
with their parents/guardians was most important to them
("interestingly, only 9% ? listed their relationship with their
counselor/advisor as most important). "Young people stated that their
parents also help guide the choices that they make. Surprisingly,
nearly half (45%) ? feel that their
parents most significantly influence their decisions, rather than
their peers." BGCA quotes child psychiatrist and Harvard Medical
School prof. Alvin F. Poussaint as saying that "youth value the
opinions of their adult mentors, especially their parents' opinion.
Our kids want to be heard." Here's coverage from TV stations in Waco,
Texas <http://www.kwtx.com/home/headlines/2478101.html> and Sacramento
<http://www.news10.net/storyfull3.aspx?storyid=16497>, among several
using variations of the headline: "Survey: Teens Fear War, Crave
Parental Contact."

3. Technology & humanity

One very candid columnist in the Richmond Times-Dispatch says our
technology is outpacing our humanity, citing a school hallway fight
between two girls captured with a cellphone camera and posted on the
Web by a third girl
&path=!news!columnists>. "Everyone, it seems, wants to be a star,"
Michael Paul Williams writes. "Unfortunately, these young folks too
often are channeling Al 'Scarface' Pacino ? as their motivation. Toss
in an explosion of technologies their elders don't always comprehend,
and the implications are frightening." He may sound like a Luddite,
but he's pointing out something that turns up in a lot of places,
online *and* offline, where there is unmediated, private interaction
in a homogenous group of people who are angry or otherwise not
thinking of the implications of what they say and do. Humanity goes
missing. Williams has a point when he says, "In the movies, robots invariably rebel
against humanity. But with our demonstrable capacity for cruel and
inhumane treatment of each other, who needs Terminators? We must
create a culture of responsible use of portable technology, before it
becomes a menace to society" (or at least to the well-being and
reputations of people who aren't using it responsibly). We parents can
be there for them, not to spy or overreact, but to keep the
communication lines open and, when there's receptivity, help them stay
alert, think before they post in public spaces, and show the same
humanity online that they would in "real life." We need to parent the
same in cyberspace as we always have offline.

4. France & 'digital freedom of choice'

iPod users everywhere might be interested in this story. France's
National Assembly has voted yes on a law for "digital freedom of
choice," the New York Times reports
0&en=8eb623dfbe713bac&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland&emc=rss>. The
proposed law requires online music stores like iTunes to make songs
available to any MP3 player, not just the iPod. "The bill also
introduces relatively lenient penalties for digital piracy by
individuals, with proposed fines of $45 to $180," according to the
Times. The BBC reported
<http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/4833010.stm> that Apple called
the legislation "state-sponsored music piracy." The law, which has
been "fast-tracked" by the legislature next goes to France's Senate
for a vote expected in May. If it passes, the BBC says, Apple would
have the choice of complying or shutting down its iTunes store in
France, which the BBC says represents just 5% of Apple's global
business. The Times adds that, "while the iPod would be the device
most prominently affected by the legislation, others, like Sony's
Walkman digital music players, operate on a similar principle." France
seems to be becoming a national-level consumer advocate in a global
marketplace - the country already requires that iPod earbuds sold
there have a maximum volume to protect French ears.

5. Social-networking, Korean-style

Could this be the future of US social-networking? I'm referring to
South Korea-based Cyworld <http://cyworld.nate.com/main2/index.htm>,
as described in Business Week
<http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_39/b3952405.htm>. At
15 million users (nearly a third of South Korea's population), it's
proportionately even bigger than MySpace. Business Week says 90% of
Koreans in their late teens and early 20s are hooked on Cyworld. So
what is it? It's basically a social-networking site where people
create their own home pages that are like rooms and "can accommodate
an unlimited numbers of photos, documents, and other goodies." What
makes it even more addictive, BW says, is little "extra twists" like
the way users can decorate their "rooms" with digital furniture and
art, and enhance the visitor's experience with music and videos (a
virtual couch costs about $.60 in real money ­ Cyworld makes money
selling these virtual goods). Everyone has his/her own avatar. "Since
avatars stop by, the idea is to make your space as cool as possible."
Users can access Cyworld by mobile phone as well, which is something
MySpace is working on (see "Phone as fashion statement?", in my 2/24
issue <http://www.netfamilynews.org/nl060224.html#10>). "One feature
that has helped Cyworld take off is 'wave riding.' It works like this:
When you're reading posts on bulletin boards or looking at photo
files, you can click on the name of someone who has added a remark or
photo you find interesting and you'll be transported to that person's
digital room. If you like the art or music, you can introduce yourself
and put in a request to become a 'cybuddy.' If accepted, you can use
your buddy's goodies -- from art to photos -- on your own page."
People with similar tastes turn into virtual and real-world clubs and
communities. [BTW, MySpace, at about 64 million members now, only
needs about 35 million more to reach Cyworld's
one-third-of-its-country-level of membership.]

6. *How* to protect ears?

We hear a lot about earbuds' riskiness, but not a lot about how to
*avoid* damaging ears. Eliot Van Buskirk, a writer and musician who
says music lovers are particularly at risk, has a whole list of things
people can do to reduce ear-damage risk in this age of highly mobile
music. At least until better-designed earbuds are sold. The list is on
p.2 of his article in Wired magazine

Ear Health

7. Videogames' 'true impact'

This is an interesting, maybe even exciting, prospect to consider:
Because our children are growing up with videogames, "they'll treat
the world as a place for creation, not consumption," writes Will
Wright, creator of The Sims, in Wired magazine
<http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.04/wright.html>. If we watch
our kids playing videogames, we'll notice, he says, that "the last
thing they do is read the manual. Instead, they pick up the controller
and start mashing buttons to see what happens. This isn't a random
process; it's the essence of the scientific method. Through trial and
error, players build a model of the underlying game based on empirical
evidence collected through play. As the players refine this model,
they begin to master the game world. It's a rapid cycle of hypothesis,
experiment, and analysis. And it's a fundamentally different take on
problem-solving than the linear, read-the-manual-first approach of
their parents." He explains how game design and production is changing
- how, increasingly, the player is actually participating in game
development, as gameplay and community are combined (in massively
multiplayer online game worlds).

8. Yet another Apple patch

Apple today issued its third security patch in less than three weeks,
but this week's was more a patch of a patch, Internet News reports
<http://www.internetnews.com/security/article.php/3592531>. The patch
will probably come automatically - this page at Apple's site
<http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=106704> explains how
that works. Washington Post security writer Brian Krebs offers details
and background links at the bottom of his blog

9. Parenting smaller Net surfers

Post-millennial kids have never known life without a computer or, in
most cases, the Internet. That would include 3-year-old Josh, son of
Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Fry
<http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114132539665087820.html>, who is
refreshingly candid about this factor in Josh's life: "Joshua was born
into a world of ubiquitous computers with Internet access. He'll need
a guide into that world, sooner rather than later. That guide will be
me. And I have absolutely no idea what to do, and pretty conflicted
feelings about what awaits my son." Jason's last paragraph says a lot.
It reflects both the lack of confidence so many of us feel about
raising tech-literate kids and an important observation ­ that tech
and the Net are no different from any other part of parenting. We're
figuring it out together as we go along, and the more parent-child
communication along the way the better. To read of other other
parents' dilemmas and reactions to Jason's column, go to this
page <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB114201183528094918.html> and
scroll down about four screens.

10. Blogs, wikis, etc. at school

An article in TechLearning.com
refers to the new "Web where little is done in isolation." I think
that's a symbol of a *world* "where little is done in isolation."
Physical isolation sometimes, maybe, but today's teen
social-networkers are showing us that even when they're alone in a
room at a connected computer (cellphone, gameplayer, or video MP3
player), they do very little in isolation. Smart educators are using
blogs, wikis, email, collaborative podcasting, etc. to help education
keep up with students' lives. The article is by Will Richardson,
supervisor of instructional technology at Hunterdon Central Regional
High School in Flemington, New Jersey. He's summarizing his new book,
Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.
The Poughkeepsie Journal
4/NEWS02/603040318/1007> reports on how K-6 students in different
states use videoconferencing to share research and collaborate on
writing projects. And a Penn State press release
<http://live.psu.edu/story/16463> tells of how an adolescent
psychology professor uses teen blogs and social-networking profiles as
her "textbook" in students' study of adolescent behavior. There are
now ed-tech companies offering blogging and videoconferencing services
to schools, as well as a network of classrooms to connect with, e.g.,
a collaboration of ePals and Scholastic

Podcast Information http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Technology/podcast.html

11. Canadian cybersex study

Toronto-based dating site CampusKiss.com conducted a nationwide survey
that found 87% of Canadian college and university students "admit to
having virtual sex over IM, Webcams, or the telephone," Christian news
site AgapePress.org reports
<http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/3/212006f.asp>. The article
quotes Donna Rice-Hughes, president of the Enough is Enough
online-safety organization <http://www.enough.org/>, as pointing out
that a high level of exposure to virtual sex isn't just happening at
the college level and certainly isn't just about exploitation by
adults. "As an example she notes that in statistics provided by the
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
[http://www.ncmec.org], one of the largest categories of online
perpetrators who were soliciting sex from other minors were minor
children themselves." For a psychiatrist's survey of the latest
research see "Online sex & child protection"
<http://netfamilynews.org/nl060310.html#1> in my 3/10 issue.

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