What can be done to ensure the safety of young people online?

A survey by Consumer Reports finds that 7.5 million Facebook users are under the network’s minimum age of 13. More than 5 million are under age 10. The survey also finds that millions of Americans have been victimized in some way via social networks. Today’s Question: What can be done to ensure the safety of young people online?

  • uptownZombie

    Nothing. Parents should just be responsible and act accordingly instead of using a TV, computer and cell phone to act as babysitters.

    Beyond that our society has turned into a giant herd of helicopter parents because they’re so afraid of the “weird guy” down the street peeking out of the bushes. He’s always been there, and he always will be. You now see a mom or dad watching with binocs as their kid walks to a friend’s house two blocks away.

  • greg

    EXTREME :> Fully-legally register every user (age, address, permitted access level, etc) for anyone capable of using the internet. Fully-legally register every online source provider (Commercial, Government-Public, Private-Personal) -regardless of size or value. Establish blocking management software on internet routers-hubs-network to only grant transfer of data to-from fully registered providers or users. Tax the internet activity to cover the cost of the system and its enforcement. FANTASY-TECHNICALLY FEASIBLE:> Slow down the internet to the old 9600 baud rate. the Kids will stop using it within 5 hours – nationwide. They have no patience. REALISTIC:> Tax the internet to fund a very beefed up overt policing system. that patrols the system and seeks out problems. Hire kids to run it. They already enjoy rooting.

  • Larry M.

    Parents can buy some blocking programs, it is after all their responsibility. Parents can limit internet time and set up some ground rules. Parents must tell children and teens to never meet in person someone they’ve met online without a parent present and in a public setting.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Making the internet safe for kids is a fool’s errand. Keeping children safe from internet predators is like keeping them safe from aligators in the bayou, tigers in the jungle, and wolves in the forest. It’s good to be afraid of dangerous things. In ancient times our forebears taught their children a healthy fear of the wilderness by telling them scary stories about it. That strategy might work for the online wilderness, too.

  • Philip

    These are the steps we have taken: 1) The computer is in the most used room in the house. 2) The screen is never turned away. 3) The computer must be logged into by my wife or myself and requires our permission to use. 4) We have installed good child-safe software and anti-porn software (i.e. Covenant Eyes). 5) We check the history on the computer often and Covenant Eyes sends my wife and I emails of sites visited, regardless of whether the history is erased. Also, if we find it has been erased, there are serious consequences. 6) Finally, we discuss the proper use of the computer and internet a lot. It’s not just a one time discussion.

  • steve

    there should be blocking programs and steer them away and be active!

  • greg

    if every internet site had a monthly fee …. well that would sure shorten the list of where to look for problems.

  • greg

    spend time with them, get the involved in their interests, game with them, show them your interests in the internet ( sports, politics, general reserach) … oh wait we are americans… its someone elses job to to that.

  • Raul

    How can parents protect their children when Michelle Obama chooses to expose our kids to filth? She invites a radical violence spewing rapper, disguised as a poet, to attend her upcoming White House poetry.

    The rapper,” Common”, spews hate against women, advocates killing police officers and even went so far in one of his rap songs to speak of killing George Bush. His past so called inner city rap demeans women..the list goes on and on. Listening to his excuse for poetry and rap is like hearing the radical violence from the 60’s Black Panthers. Pure trash_ not art.

    IS THIS REALLY _HOW AMERICANS want our country to be represented at the White House?

  • Kyle D.

    Parental supervision combined with thoughtful education are really the only solutions.

    A lot of the suggestions I see regarding this are not feasible. Forcing every website to charge a fee will destroy the internet (which I guess would keep kids safe from it). Blocking software, while a valuable tool, cannot address the problem alone– besides, by 12, your kid will know more about it than you do, if he or she cares to learn, and will easily bypass the automated protections.

    When child abductions increased, there were public awareness campaigns to help parents know danger signs to look for. There was a significant push to teach kids how to avoid dangerous situations, and what to do if they found themselves in one anyways. We did not close all public parks and prohibit vans.

    The internet provides limitless value, and presents significant and ever-changing dangers as well. If you aren’t involved with your kids and their use of the internet, you won’t be able to protect them. And even then, there will always be a risk, just like with any other potential danger.

  • Kevin VC

    Maybe if MS created a ‘young’ profile option it might be useful.

    Meaning those under 18 or 21 depending….

    Give various options of ‘opt-in’ sites that parents have to approve before they can gain access.

    There have been programs like NetNanny, which may or may not have had some ‘legal’ issues….

    Maybe like driving suggest ‘internet’ education needs to be done…. The emphasis not on HOW to use a computer on the internet, but rather teaching ‘street wise’ thinking when online.

    The other issue is just being aware as parent.

    This is the one I most believe in and does not put false belief in a program screaming to be hacked, bypassed, tricking into disabling, not installed right, or ignored.

    As a technician I can say most problems were people being NIEVE and tricked. You will find others like Kevin Mitnick who point out security is a ‘person problem’ and not a ‘program’ problem.

    The best security can be stepped around by tricking the user. Get them to ‘trust you’ more then the security programs.

    One issue Vista has was it was too secure and warned way too often, and people would often turn off or disable the security features. (FYI Win 7 is pretty much Vista just will a few more things added and a lot of warning turned off…)

    So educating kids, parents, and just any user really needs to be front most if this is EVER to really be addressed. We could likely remove 50% of the problem if we had people aware of their system, social engineering ‘tricksters’, and to learn best practices.

    You will not get kids off the internet, that would be wrong. But their understanding of it would be of great use. Maybe get them aware enough to help keep Parents safe.

    (Heck my dad was duped into installing a fake anti-virus program from a Ad on facebook. They pretended to be Microsoft. Oddly enough I was working for them at the time and know they do not operate that way. I got on the phone with this guy and think I put the fear of god into him. )

    Educate, Learn, and then stay Aware.

    Same things you should be doing in life as it is.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Hey, Raul, no one seems to be taking your bait. Why don’t you go troll somewhere else.

  • Mary

    Parents need to set rules, limits and teach their kids how to be safe online. Enforce and supervise, supervise, supervise.

  • DNA

    Never, ever let them online.

    Oh yeah, too late.

    Remind them that dreamtime (and lucid dreaming) can be more wonderful than the internet.

    I don’t know …

    We just all have to be the best adults we can be.

    (Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have kids)