Speaking Point: Its 2012 and the internet and technology are changing at warp speed.
Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have added a whole new dimension to internet privacy issues and kids.
The surveys that have been taken over only the last three years have shown a true shift in what parents find to be their primary concern when it comes to internet privacy and their children.
Speaking Point: In 2009, a report by CS Mott Children's Hospital cites that 66% of parents chief concerns about the internet and their children related to both "online sexual predators" AND their child's private information being exposed for public viewing. 50% of the same group of parents also mentioned access to pornography as a major concern.
Speaking Point: Just one year later, in 2010, a survey came out by the internet privacy group, Truste, an organization that monitors the privacy habits of parents and their teens. In the Truste survey, privacy on Social Networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, was the top concern by parents. 86% of parents surveyed are "friends" with their child on Facebook as a way to monitor who their "friends" are and what private information their child is sharing. 70% of parents and 64% of their teens say they use privacy controls to protect their teen's reputation and from strangers "friending" them.
Speaking Point: And today, in 2012, the website, Stopbullying.com concludes in their study that parents today are equally concerned about what they call the "4Ps".... 1.Privacy...as defined as limiting the personal information of their child and protecting their reputation. 2.Predators...as defined as strangers seeking to lure kids into dialogue for the purpose of sexual exploitation and abuse. 3.Pornography...as defined as sexually explicit images readily available to their children. 4.Pop-ups...as defined as random websites "popping up" onto their child's computer with content the parent doesn't feel comfortable for their child to see...most notably, pornography and violence.
Speaking Point: These studies show us the differing levels of parents concerns from one year to the next. As the internet and social media sites have become more popular, parents have become more involved and more informed. And yes...more worried.
Speaking Point: Yet, all these studies over the course of the last three year explosion of popularity of internet use by teens, have one conclusion for parents.... That there needs to be a balance between a parents "need to know" and a child's "desire for privacy". For me, it comes down to the only constant we have here, the relationship between parent and child.
Speaking Point: A parent is responsible for creating a safe family culture where communication is open, kids have a voice about their own experience, but only within the values, boundaries and rules, parents have created for their family to operate in. Kids do well when they feel they can be themselves and not have to hide their choices. They embrace their parents' "coaching" and tend to not "go underground" with their behaviors when parents have the courage to listen and honor the true experience of their child.
Speaking Point: The internet can be a scary and a risky place and it will continue to get more and more invasive. Parents need to teach, guide, coach and love their child through their internet experience and partner with them on their safe journey into the abyss.