Roaming With...Executive Director, WiredSafety.org, Parry Aftab
By Parry Aftab
Welcome to the wonderful new world of wireless! Our families are carrying powerful computing in handheld devices the size of a pack of playing cards (or smaller!). They’re downloading and playing music, movies, and games. They’re shooting, storing and sharing-e photos, video and audio. They are always in touch, always connected, always engaged.
Great! Except the most often repeated Internet safety tip warns parents to place the computer in a central location to keep an eye on what’s going on. So, now with many of our kids among the 200-plus million wireless users in the U.S., how are
we supposed to keep them safe when they are carrying access and communication devices in the palms of their little hands? Are we supposed to tell them to keep their cell phone or other handheld device in a central location? Of course not. At this point, it’s less about standing over their shoulders and more about improving the “filter between their ears.”
You can do this by being proactive and informed (not rocket scientists, just informed...), and a service provider can help by providing critical information to consumers when they’re deciding what devices and services to buy. Luckily, it all comes down to three key issues. I call these the “3Cs” – Communication, Content, and Commercialism. Every digital device or interactive service involves at least one of them; some involve all three. Once you find the Cs involved, spotting the risks and solutions is easy.
Start by reviewing all your interactive technology devices and services. If you are shopping for a new device or service, a salesperson should be asked and
able to respond to these questions before a customer plunks down their hard-earned money.
Communication: Does this device or service allow you to communicate with others? Does it allow others to communicate with you? If so, how (email, text messaging, voice capabilities)? What controls exist to block, filter or monitor these communications? How can I implement them?
Content: What content or images can be accessed or shared using the device or service? Can you surf the Web, access blog or profile sites, post your blog or profile sites or download media? Can you store images, personal information, video, songs, etc? What controls exist to rate, block, filter or monitor the content? How can I implement them?
Commercialism: What kind of charges are associated with the different things this
device can do? Are there ways to spend money or buy things using the device/service? Are there ways to control costs or prevent my kids from spending
money or buying things without my approval? What controls exist to block, filter
or monitor these costs or spending ability? How can I implement them? Next, you need to refer to the common sense tips our grandmothers taught our parents
and they taught us – we just need to translate them from “Grandma-speak” to