Ever worry about what your children are looking at online? Or worry they are spending too much time on the Internet? Of course you do!
There is so much to fear in the digital age, from online predators to cyberbullies to unwelcomed pop-ups and risqué advertising. But as consumers of the World Wide Web, we also know that so much good content is out there for children as well.
A new product just hit the market that may make it easier for parents to control the content as well as the amount of time kids are viewing it online. PowerCloud Systems, in partnership with Common Sense Media, launched a new parental control feature in Skydog (their home networking monitoring system), named webRover. The control is designed for monitoring kids between the ages 2 and 10. Through the Skydog-connected system, parents can set up multiple user accounts that can be controlled across all devices (including mobile and tablets).
“Kids can easily get exposed to age-inappropriate content,” says Caroline Knorr, the Parenting Editor for Common Sense Media. “They can do that by typing something into the Internet that seems like an innocuous search term, and they can arrive at a website that is not age appropriate.”
“Let’s face it, there’s no way that you can prevent your kids from being exposed to age-inappropriate content or content that you don’t approve of, but there are ways to manage their online activities so they are funneled into sites where they have a greater chance of finding age-appropriate, positive, nourishing websites versus what they might find on their own,” she continues.
Each webRover user profile can be customized based on what each parent deems appropriate for each child. For example, parents can schedule designated study hours during the week for school-age children where only approved websites can be accessed during that time. So even though kids may need the Internet to research a homework assignment, you won’t have to worry that they are wasting time playing an online game. For even younger children, parents can allow access-based categories, including learning potential. This is where Common Sense Media comes in.
The organization rates and reviews media across multiple platforms (like movies, TV shows, video games, apps, etc.) and assesses the appropriate age for each product. Multiple factors come into play, including violence, sex, cigarettes and drugs, language, positive role models, and learning capability. So, even though some websites may be kid-friendly, they may not necessarily promote learning. Through webRover, parents can customize the sites they want to allow, like ones with a higher educational rating. For sites that don’t have a ranking (like religious and regional websites), parents can manually enter in their own information and ratings. Parents can even override Common Sense Media’s ratings if they decide their young child can handle websites aimed at older children, or if they find something age-inappropriate based on their own values.
“Often parental controls are blunt instruments that block out too much good stuff,” Knorr says. “That’s been a real downfall with the controls up until this point. So the way Skydog has implemented it…they are saying, ‘You know what, we want to just curate the good stuff for kids.’”
The big key here is that although there are different recommendations about the what, how, and when children can access the Internet, the webRover feature allows ultimate control to be left up to the parents. And that deserves a little sigh of relief!
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Can your little cutie be a little meanie in disguise? If your toddler pushes, hits, or hurts another kid, is he a bully and will he grow up to be one?
TODAY Moms has a fascinating article about whether pre-K kids should be labeled as bullies if they show aggression toward others. According to Dr. Heather Wittenberg, a child pyschologist and parenting expert for Parents who was quoted in the article, it’s typical for toddlers to be more aggressive, but they’re still too young to hurt someone deliberately, with premeditation. It’s not until age 6 when kids start to understand the concepts of power and right vs. wrong. Other experts disagree, saying toddlers understand the concept of bullying at age 4 — and it only gets worse from there.
Take our poll and share what you think in the Comments area — do toddlers understand what it means to bully?
Marlo Thomas, the actress and activist behind the “Free to Be…You and Me” movement that helped kids to be proud of their individual personalities and culturally diverse personalities, is speaking out against bullying.
Kevin Jacobsen, the father of a bullied teen, inspired Thomas when he wrote to her. Jacobsen had started a website, KindnessAboveMalice.org, in honor of his 14-year-old son, Kameron, who committed suicide in 2010 as a result of the bullying. In an article for the Huffington Post, Thomas urges parents to be more aware and involved in their children’s lives. After speaking to Kevin Jennings, the assistant deputy secretary at the Department of Education, the actress shares how certain questions can help parents determine if their child is being bullied:
Does your child not want to ride the school bus any more?
Does your child often wake in the morning complaining about stomach aches and asking to stay home from school?
Are your child’s friends not coming around so much any more?
Has your child stopped receiving invitations to parties?
The most important and helpful thing parents can do is initiate conversations about bullying, especially since most kids are ashamed and embarrassed to tell their parents. Instead of letting kids handle the bullying alone, parents need to step in and support them through every crisis and to continue carrying the “Free to Be” message of acceptance and tolerance.
The White House announced today that StopBullying.gov has been launched, a new government-funded website that will be an online resource for kids, parents, and educators that will explain bullying and cyberbullying and provide information on how to prevent and protect against bullying.
As part of the all-day White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, U.S. Secretary of Eduation Arne Duncan and Assistant Deputy Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools Kevin Jennings, shared some of the initiatives that have been implemented to support schools across the nation dealing with bullying.
Since 2010, federal funds and grants have been provided to 11 schools with deep-rooted bullying problems, and the grants also include a survey for students give them a voice to address bullying openly. A “Dear Colleague” letter was also sent to schools to address how bullying violates civil rights and a memo was distributed to revise state policies on bullying.
With the launch of StopBullying.gov, the White House encourages parents to be vigilant about having open conversations and giving them guidance on bullying.
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Since bullying (and cyberbullying) is an ongoing, escalating issue, the White House will be holding a conference call on Thursday, March 10 to address ways to prevent it.
Yesterday, the Office of the Press Secretary shared a statement that President Obama, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services will be holding a Conference on Bullying Prevention. The conference will be an open dialgoue for students, parents, teachers, communities, and others who have been affected by bullying or are working to stop it.