I had the pleasure of seeing New York Times tech columnist David Pogue talk at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Aside from being incredibly astute when it comes to reviewing consumer gadgets, David is really good at looking at how technology both reflects and changes how we interact evolve as a people.
At the Kids@Play Summit, he narrowed his focus to how high tech toys, websites and gadgets impact how our kids live—something we at AVG have been studying through our own Digital Diaries research.
One of the things Pogue said that struck me was how various technologies (such as Casio’s smartphone-ready watch) are being connected with or controlled by our mobile phones. With today’s mobile phones, video game consoles and a barrage of other web-enabled gadgets, keeping kids safe online means safeguarding a growing number of access points.
Why? Because it’s becoming increasingly difficult for parents to control the information today’s kids have access to. With a few clicks, kids can check to see if Santa really exists. Or Google “is there such a thing as a monster” just as a kid might, and you’ll find the users on Yahoo! Answers are happy to inform you of everything you need to fear in life. And that’s just keeping things on the light side.
But as David said, the point isn’t to prevent kids from accessing the Internet. By doing so, we effectively prevent kids from the kind of development they need today in order to thrive tomorrow. And this is an important point. Kids aren’t just using technology for fun. They’re using technology to create, learn and develop in ways the world will one day require of them. So how do we help them engage in an online world without coming into contact with the web’s dangerous and unsavory elements?
Educator Mary Beth Hertz’ piece on how she helps her students safely navigate the web for research purposes is a must read. Nikki Moore recently wrote a great piece on keeping kids safe online. And we at AVG are constantly posting information to help families, students, small business owners and others protect themselves.
The point is: help is out there. All you have to do is look for it. If you don’t, you put your kids at risk.
Remember when keeping our kids safe meant checking to make sure they were okay in the backyard? Their backyard has gotten a lot bigger. We must become experts in patrolling it.