Posted in family conversations, healthy media images, media literacy, parent child conversations, parent education, resources to read, risky behavior

Conversations About Skins from Common Sense Media

As usual, Common Sense Media is right on top of the latest media/television family dilemma, and the website has published a short piece to help parents talk with their teenage children about the MTV program, Skins. In Tough Talk: How Parents Can Use MTV’S Skins As a Jumping Off Point, Liz Perle writes, “MTV’s teen drama Skins (a remake of the even edgier British series) showcases every behavior that keeps parents of teenagers up at night.” Perle suggests conversation pointers that can help parents begin conversations on these all too nerve-wracking topics. While these subjects keep parents in a perpetual state of jitters, teenagers confront many of the issues the issues on a daily basis — though honestly the show itself seems overly contrived. Check out the article.

The point is – and this is a Common Sense Media mantra (about page) — no matter how uncomfortable the topic may be, the most important thing is to work hard to keep the dialogue going throughout the challenging teenage years. The conversations, even if they don’t go as smoothly as a parent wishes, nevertheless help adolescent kids think about making better choices.

Posted in digital devices and gadgets, digital parenting, parents and technology, risky behavior, scams and fraud

Technology Scams: An Overview

In the digital era, parents need basic knowledge of online scams that have the potential to cause mayhem on a family’s digital devices

A quick and easy-to-read overview of potential online  scams, Social-Media Scams Abound but They Can be Avoided, appeared in the Washington Post on November 14, 2010.  The Kiplinger Personal Finance article, by Casey Mysliwy, goes over three types of malicious behaviors that can trip-up even the most savvy digital media users. If you missed this description of potential digital problems, take some time to read the article as well as share it with family members who computers, the web, or smart phones. The three potential scams are:

  1. Messages that involve money transfers and seek personal information;
  2. Applications that offer a quiz, game, or other method that encourage you to share personal details; and
  3. Shortened URL (web addresses) that hide a destination’s true identity because the address is simply a group of characters.

You can also check out 5 Social Media Scams at the Norton AntiVirus site and New Jersey Officials Warn Residents About Social Media Scams at the New Jersey Today website.

Posted in cultural changes, digital citizenship, digital parenting, hate groups on the web, online safety, online security, parents and technology, risky behavior

Kids, Hate Groups, and the Internet: There’s So Much to Encounter!

In today’s digital world groups increasingly troll the Internet, depositing easily available and intriguing materials — music, posters, jokes, cartoons, and stories — whose sole purpose is to introduce growing children to hate. Over recent years this readily available propaganda, designed expressly to appeal to teen sarcasm, edgy humor, and musical preferences, strives to look like any other funny or absurd digital content a student might casually discover. Except that it’s not funny.

It’s also not something for parents to scare. The simple fix is for parents and educators to talk with children, mentoring them, helping them learn to evaluate, guiding them to develop an eagle eye that identifies and filters hateful content — exactly what you teach them to do with any other inappropriate content.

All of us — educators, parents, and especially adolescents — need to know how to recognize this type of information and how to alert others. Hate groups look for vulnerable pre-adolescents and teens from every socioeconomic group. The level of education in a child’s home and an emphasis on values of respect and acceptance may not make a difference if a child, during an especially needy, lonely, or stressful time or through an error in judgment, encounters a clever hate group tactic. Many children are simply attracted by absurdity, laughing at symbols they know little about. That’s also when a group may try, if it has even a bit of personal information, to encourage an adolescent to come back, laugh some more, and maybe even make a friend.

Hate groups have become more active and more visible since President Obama’s 2008 election, but these organizations, some quite small, have courted young people for years. An old, but still relevant Salon Magazine article, Web of Hate, described the problem as it existed on the Internet in 1998, providing a good background. The issue, however, is far more serious today.

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) spends a considerable amount of its time and money tracking purveyors of hate. Its website features an interactive hate map and also provides first-rate resources that parents, teachers, and religious leaders can use when hateful content surfaces or when it’s necessary to actually fight recruitment tactics. The map, by the way, is an extraordinary teaching tool in itself, but so are the SPLC intelligence files such as this one on the Ku Klux Klan.

Read about the white power racist music industry and some of its recruitment strategiesIn an article in the California-based, East Country Magazine, James McElroy, a chairman of the SPLC board comments:

We try to shine a little light on it. Hate is like a fungus under a rock. Shine a light and you can eradicate it.

Continue reading “Kids, Hate Groups, and the Internet: There’s So Much to Encounter!”

Posted in online safety, parents and technology, risky behavior, social networking

Modifying Adolescent Risky Behavior on Social Networking Sites

The impulse-driven and wild-West environment of social networking sites encourages pre-adolescents and adolescents to “publicly display references to behaviors that are both personal and associated with health risks, such as sexual behaviors.” This article, Reducing At-Risk Adolescents’ Display of Risk Behavior on a Social Networking Web Site, published in the January 2009 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine is a riveting journal article.

Of interest to parents, the article reports how a physician researched at-risk behavior concerning sex or substance abuse openly posted by teenagers on social networking sites. Although it contains some complex statistics and research language, the article is available free for downloading and worth the time it takes to read.

A pediatrician, at the time of the research from the University of Washington Medical School, Megan A. Moreno, MD, M.S.Ed, MPH (Dr. Meg), identified public adolescent social networking profiles that featured risky behavior. She wondered whether hearing directly from a physician via e-mail about risky behaviors depicted on the social networking sites might influence how the young people represented themselves on-line and might perhaps encourage them to make healthy changes in their profiles.

Continue reading “Modifying Adolescent Risky Behavior on Social Networking Sites”