The senator further elaborated by saying, “When do people get those values, social values, that are not completely developed?” in regards to an implication that the children who are at the most risk are those who are recently exposed to “new media” – ie, children in rural areas. As stimulus money begins to trickle down to rural areas, giving broader access to broadband and satellite services, more children will have exposure to social networks on line, as well as mobile access to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
The roundtable was designed to discuss what local communities as well as what legislators could do to increase safety and understanding to children who are being exposed to new kinds of interactions. Jane Levitan, youth services director for Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, says that kids need to understand the consequences and what information is safe to put out on the internet – and what isn’t.
FTC representative Nat Wood, who is the assistant director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection, notified those at the roundtable discussion that the FTC is active in outreach and education programs with students – with the FTC’s Net Cetera Community Outreach Toolkit available for schools, in both English and Spanish.
I think we can all agree that the concerns about children’s privacy and safety on the internet should be a top concern, it’s a new dawn and a new age, where children are exposed to things way before they probably should be. If a child doesn’t have an understanding of what the internet is, how their information is transmitted, and who can access it, they are surely in a dangerous position. While legislators and community representatives search desperately to find a way to protect children, which is important, I think they are missing something important.
If rural communities are not used to having unfettered access to the internet and online communications, then it’s safe to say that parents are just as uneducated as children when it comes to these things. Even parents who live in large cities and are used to being exposed to the Internet often have to admit that they didn’t know what their child was doing online.
It’s hard to imagine that a parent wouldn’t understand most of this stuff, but believe it or not, there are some areas of the United States and the world where people don’t update their Facebook status once an hour. It stands to reason that parents should be educated first on the same things – if a parent is educated about what their child may be doing, they’ll know how to view an internet history, warning signs, and even how to reinforce the importance of privacy with their children.
It’s a changing world out there and if we are trying to get used to the idea of children being exposed to a new world – we’re going to have to understand that there are a lot of parents that are also newly experiencing the online world as a social medium.