(Sue Scheff) The INTERNET DIVIDE by Connect with Kids

computerpic.jpg“They do it so fast, that lingo goes by so fast, you don’t know what they are saying. I mean she’s got three people on here right now. I couldn’t tell you how she’s keeping up those conversations.”

– Roopa Bhandari, mother, discussing her daughter’s online Instant Messaging

<!–a href=”#” mce_href=”#” target=”_blank”></a–>Are most kids more Internet savvy than their parents? A new Harris poll says the answer is yes. Are kids doing things online that would upset their parents? It seems that answer is also yes.

Sonia uses shorthand to chat with her friends online.
 
“LOL is laughing out loud, BRB — be right back, BBL — be back later, and LMHO –laughing my head off,” says Sonia, 13.

She’s so fast, it’s hard for her mom to keep up.

“They do it so fast, that lingo goes by so fast, you don’t know what they are saying. I mean, she’s got three people on here right now. I couldn’t tell you how she’s keeping up those conversations,” says Roopa Bhandari, Sonia’s mother.

According to the latest Harris poll, parents think their kids are online a total of six hours a week, but kids say they’re on the Internet almost twice that long. Almost a quarter of the kids admit to behavior that would upset their parents: talking to strangers, looking at porn, cyberbullying. This is today’s digital divide, with kids on one side, inexperienced parents on the other.

“I think the naivety in a lot of senses is really unnecessary, because it’s not as hard as it looks to a lot of these parents, they just have to take initiative and they have to go for it and make sure that their kids are safe,” says Jamey Brown, Systems Administrator, Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

That means keeping the computer in an open area, using Internet filters and learning as much as you can.

“Education of the parents is absolutely essential, because if the kids have a strong desire to do these kinds of things, then they’re going to find ways around even some of the best protections. If they are more knowledgeable than their parents on even the software that’s being used to circumvent them, then it can really work against [parents],” says Brown.

And learning can start with simple questions and conversations.

“Who’s ACL7C?” asks Sonia’s mom.
 “My friend at school,” Sonia answers.
“What’s her name?” 
“Emily.”

While her mother is trying to learn, Sonia would still like to keep some things private.

“It’s half and half. It’s good that she’s aware of some of the stuff, but not all of it,” says Sonia.

Tips for Parents

  • The Internet can be a wonderful resource for kids. They can use it to research school reports, communicate with teachers and other kids, and play interactive games. (Nemours Foundation) However, it also provides access to information, sites, pictures and people that can be harmful to children and teens. 
  • It’s important to be aware of what your children see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves online. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Just like any safety issue, it’s a good idea to talk with your kids about your concerns, take advantage of resources to protect them from potential dangers, and keep a close eye on their activities. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Keep the computer in a common area, not in individual bedrooms, where you can watch and monitor your child. (Nemours Foundation)
  • Encourage your teen to follow simple precautions, such as remaining anonymous at all times (this includes chat rooms); never disclosing private information such as address, phone number, school name, and credit card numbers; and never agreeing to meet someone in person that you have met in a chat room. (Nemours Foundation)

References

  • Nemours Foundation

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