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Keeping his eye on the news and offering commentaries and insights on what is happening in Oakland County, around the world, on the tube and in the news.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Children online with social media

Finally, some smart advice about children and the online world: Don't fight it, teach them good values.

An Associated Press story, noting how 2009 it is to try to monitor your children's Facebook account, is out today. And it carries this advice:

"Parents who want to keep up with the curve should stop thinking in terms of imposing time limits or banning social media services, which are stopgap measures. Experts say it’s time to talk frankly to kids about privacy controls and remind them — again — how nothing in cyberspace every really goes away, even when software companies promise it does."

I believe it is best to let children start early on computers, both the mechanism and the online tools, so it is natural to them. And part of it being natural to them, of course, is the idea of what to trust, or really, what to distrust, namely everything.

Just as everything must be sourced or at least spread with the idea that 'it may not be true, but here is what one person says,' so too must children learn that they must not hold everything they see as truth, especially when it is what someone says about them. Online 'bullying' or picking on, naming, making fun of, call it what you will, is the same as when it happens in person or in the hallway. It is less harmful if it is given its proper place.

Approaching the web as a valuable tool that allows for easy communication but with a skepticism one should carry throughout their lives prevents many of the problems we see involving teenagers and social media. Just as children learn restraint in what they say to friends, in class or out in public, they also must learn to use the same restraint online.

Just today, two girls are charged with menacing for tweeting or saying something on Facebook about the victim, not as the AP calls her, the 'accuser,' in the Ohio rape case. Dumb stuff, I hope, but it could be more sinister, considering how many conspired to hide this crime, but if they had it in them to have a bit of restraint, now they would not be in court, facing criminal charges and forced to pay for a defense and risking a criminal record.

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