Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Internet safety at NetSmartzKids***

When I classified the sites I am showcasing, I left out one category which doesn't quite fit anywhere. And that is the links page - the ubiquitous page which pops up on most sites with a list of links or resources to go to. Many of these are invariably broken, and the usefulness of a link seems to be related to how deeply buried it is in the long list, but there is no denying that the link page is, quite quite needed! Today's post is going to be a link post itself, with constant addition of links about internet safety for children, as I discover them in my collection or on the net. (And when I have more time than today!)

We all know the basic net safety rules, but we also flout them ourselves all the time - no personal information on the net (and that includes identifying photographs), checking safety of sites before divulging credit card numbers, no opening of emails from unidentified personnel, no meeting people we have just met online - because you don't know who is reading your post or looking at your photograph. It could be someone on the north pole, benign and smiling, or it could be your next door neighbour not convicted of a heinous crime for want of evidence, or the pervert who decides, out of the blue, to just randomly zero in on you to harass, or the roving ad-man looking for free photographs to filch and use for an ad for a product which you would never ever endorse in your waking life (nightmares not counted!), or an unscrupulous copy paster of your words. Remember that the net is like a public park or a railway station, only more public, and if you open your clothes to show the new purchase to your intimates, well, the park is watching. Or if you shout out to your friends to come look at the condo you redecorated, there are all sorts of people there, listening. We all forget in a short while of being with friends, or with friendly strangers on a forum, in a community, or, on a blog, that this is a vast conglomeration of all sorts of people, the good bad and ugly included. Also, the anonymity offered by the net makes all of us bolder in the pursuit of our ideas, be they good, or BAD. We break these rules despite knowing all this. Because it is in the human nature to network, to share, to bond. And children are doubly vulnerable on this account because of their inherent curiosity, and openness and trust in case of younger, and rebelliousness in case of older children. And it becomes our responsibility to teach them the tools for safety. For safety is a mindset. Safety of any kind. It doesn't lie in memorizing a set of rules only, but in knowing the points where failure to follow these rules can cause accidents.

A couple of books in the Tumblebook library can serve as a beginning even
if you don't have those books -

Little Red in cyberspace by Meghan Price,

and - which doesn't appear to have an author listed

Netsmartzkids is "an interactive, educational safety resource from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for children aged 5 to 17, parents, guardians, educators, and law enforcement that uses age-appropriate, 3-D activities to teach children how to stay safer on the Internet".

There are games and puzzles and activities and ecards and a club, but the most important part of the site is the Use Your Netsmartz section which features the actual tips for net safety. I am sorry that I haven't yet explored this site fully, so if falls to you to do so. But as this post will be updated later, as I mentioned, I will add on my take as well.

The url -

P.S. The first list link - Chicago Public Library.

Chiao, and safe surfing!

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