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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cell phones dangerous for child pedestrians, UAB study finds

Public release date: 26-Jan-2009

Contact: Gail Short
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Cell phones dangerous for child pedestrians, UAB study finds

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Children who talk on cell phones while crossing streets are at a higher risk for injuries or death in a pedestrian accident, said psychologists at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in a new study that will appear in the February issue of Pediatrics.

"Cell phones clearly offer convenience and safeguards to families, but they also may pose risk," they said, "particularly when children attempt to multitask while conversing on the cell phone and have reduced cognitive capacity to devote to potentially dangerous activities such as crossing streets."

For the study, researchers used a virtual reality software program and three screens to display an actual Birmingham-area crosswalk with simulated vehicles of different sizes traveling on the virtual street. The psychologists found that all of the children – even those who were experienced with talking on cell phones, crossing streets or rated as highly attentive – were more likely to exhibit risky behaviors when they crossed the virtual street while talking on a cell phone.

Specifically, it took the children who were on a cell phone 20 percent longer to begin crossing the street, and they were 43 percent more likely to be hit by a vehicle or have a close call in the virtual environment. In addition, the children looked both ways 20 percent fewer times before crossing the street and gave themselves 8 percent less time to cross safely in front of oncoming traffic when they were on the cell phone. (more)

The study was published by UAB doctoral student Despina Stavrinos, M.S., under the direction of UAB psychologist David Schwebel, Ph.D. UAB graduate student Katherine Byington also contributed to the study.

In this study, 77 children, aged 10-11, completed simulated street crossings in the virtual environment. They were asked to cross the virtual street six times without a cell phone and six times while talking on a cell phone with an unfamiliar research assistant.

The UAB researchers asked the children to cross the virtual street when they believed it was safe. The children stepped from the "curb," onto a pad with a pressure switch electronically connected to a computer, and the system registered the precise moment they entered the "street."

Cell phones are quickly becoming ubiquitous among American schoolchildren, the UAB psychologists wrote. "Commercial interests actively market cell phones for children, and marketing research firms estimate that 54 percent of children 8-12 will have cell phones by the end of [this year,] double the 2006 rate."

Just as drivers should limit cell phone use while driving, pedestrians, and especially child pedestrians, should avoid using cell phone while crossing streets, the UAB researchers said.

More research is needed to determine the impact that texting, listening to mp3 players and talking to peers has on children's ability cross streets safely, they said.

The study was partially supported by the UAB Injury Control Research Center through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a cooperative agreement with the Federal Highway Administration.

*Get the latest news from UAB at Follow UAB Media Relations on Twitter Watch the latest BlazerCast

Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?

Public release date: 27-Jan-2009

Contact: Stuart Wolpert
University of California - Los Angeles

Is technology producing a decline in critical thinking and analysis?

Studies shed light on multi-tasking, video games and learning

As technology has played a bigger role in our lives, our skills in critical thinking and analysis have declined, while our visual skills have improved, according to research by Patricia Greenfield, UCLA distinguished professor of psychology and director of the Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles.

Learners have changed as a result of their exposure to technology, says Greenfield, who analyzed more than 50 studies on learning and technology, including research on multi-tasking and the use of computers, the Internet and video games. Her research was published this month in the journal Science.

Reading for pleasure, which has declined among young people in recent decades, enhances thinking and engages the imagination in a way that visual media such as video games and television do not, Greenfield said.

How much should schools use new media, versus older techniques such as reading and classroom discussion?

"No one medium is good for everything," Greenfield said. "If we want to develop a variety of skills, we need a balanced media diet. Each medium has costs and benefits in terms of what skills each develops."

Schools should make more effort to test students using visual media, she said, by asking them to prepare PowerPoint presentations, for example.

"As students spend more time with visual media and less time with print, evaluation methods that include visual media will give a better picture of what they actually know," said Greenfield, who has been using films in her classes since the 1970s.

"By using more visual media, students will process information better," she said. "However, most visual media are real-time media that do not allow time for reflection, analysis or imagination — those do not get developed by real-time media such as television or video games. Technology is not a panacea in education, because of the skills that are being lost.

"Studies show that reading develops imagination, induction, reflection and critical thinking, as well as vocabulary," Greenfield said. "Reading for pleasure is the key to developing these skills. Students today have more visual literacy and less print literacy. Many students do not read for pleasure and have not for decades."

Parents should encourage their children to read and should read to their young children, she said.

Among the studies Greenfield analyzed was a classroom study showing that students who were given access to the Internet during class and were encouraged to use it during lectures did not process what the speaker said as well as students who did not have Internet access. When students were tested after class lectures, those who did not have Internet access performed better than those who did.

"Wiring classrooms for Internet access does not enhance learning," Greenfield said.

Another study Greenfield analyzed found that college students who watched "CNN Headline News" with just the news anchor on screen and without the "news crawl" across the bottom of the screen remembered significantly more facts from the televised broadcast than those who watched it with the distraction of the crawling text and with additional stock market and weather information on the screen.

These and other studies show that multi-tasking "prevents people from getting a deeper understanding of information," Greenfield said.

Yet, for certain tasks, divided attention is important, she added.

"If you're a pilot, you need to be able to monitor multiple instruments at the same time. If you're a cab driver, you need to pay attention to multiple events at the same time. If you're in the military, you need to multi-task too," she said. "On the other hand, if you're trying to solve a complex problem, you need sustained concentration. If you are doing a task that requires deep and sustained thought, multi-tasking is detrimental."

Do video games strengthen skill in multi-tasking?

New Zealand researcher Paul Kearney measured multi-tasking and found that people who played a realistic video game before engaging in a military computer simulation showed a significant improvement in their ability to multi-task, compared with people in a control group who did not play the video game. In the simulation, the player operates a weapons console, locates targets and reacts quickly to events.

Greenfield wonders, however, whether the tasks in the simulation could have been performed better if done alone.

More than 85 percent of video games contain violence, one study found, and multiple studies of violent media games have shown that they can produce many negative effects, including aggressive behavior and desensitization to real-life violence, Greenfield said in summarizing the findings.

In another study, video game skills were a better predictor of surgeons' success in performing laparoscopic surgery than actual laparoscopic surgery experience. In laparoscopic surgery, a surgeon makes a small incision in a patient and inserts a viewing tube with a small camera. The surgeon examines internal organs on a video monitor connected to the tube and can use the viewing tube to guide the surgery.

"Video game skill predicted laparoscopic surgery skills," Greenfield said. "The best video game players made 47 percent fewer errors and performed 39 percent faster in laparoscopic tasks than the worst video game players."

Visual intelligence has been rising globally for 50 years, Greenfield said. In 1942, people's visual performance, as measured by a visual intelligence test known as Raven's Progressive Matrices, went steadily down with age and declined substantially from age 25 to 65. By 1992, there was a much less significant age-related disparity in visual intelligence, Greenfield said.

"In a 1992 study, visual IQ stayed almost flat from age 25 to 65," she said.

Greenfield believes much of this change is related to our increased use of technology, as well as other factors, including increased levels of formal education, improved nutrition, smaller families and increased societal complexity.


The Children's Digital Media Center, Los Angeles, has received federal funding from the National Science Foundation.

UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer more than 323 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Four alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

Sending nude photos of myself is a crime? Teens surveyed say that's news to them - Metro -



from DC Public Safety (Audio) by Len

Welcome to DC Public Safety–radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

See for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

We welcome your comments or suggestions at or at Twitter at

The show features an interview with Marsali Hancock, the President of the Internet Keepsafe Coalition on the subject of minors and Internet safety. The Internet Keepsafe Coalition works in partnership with the US Department of Justice/Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention to create the Project Safe Childhood initiative. The initiative involves the Department of Justice and an array of agencies to protect the Internet experience of children.

Please see for an array of public service announcements. Please see for the web siteof the Internet Keepsafe Coalition.

Facts on child Internet safety:

·        One in four students have been exposed to unwanted pornography or asked about sex while on-line.

·        Fourteen percent of students had requests from from strangers to meet them.

·        Seven percent of students were asked for a nude photograph.

·        Parents having conversations with children about on-line safety results in their children being six time less likely to meet an on-line stranger.

The show is hosted by Leonard Sipes. The producer is Timothy Barnes. Lou Ann Holland produced the show for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Deliquency Prevention.

Friday, January 23, 2009

D.C. Public Safety Podcast Features Children's Internet Safety

D.C. Public Safety's online radio show recently highlighted dangers children face on the Internet.

The January 15, 2009, podcast features an interview with Marsali Hancock, president of the Internet Keep Safe Coalition. The Coalition works in partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency under DOJ's Project Safe Childhood initiative.

D.C. Public Safety is a public service of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia.


To listen to this podcast, visit


Monday, January 19, 2009

Cell Phones in American High Schools | 21st Century Connections

Cell Phones in American High Schools

With an increase of over 6,350% between 1990 and 2008, cell phone use in the U.S. has obviously skyrocketed. Today, over 254 million Americans are part of this pop culture phenomenon, and high school students are frequent users.

"Data from 2004 indicates that 58% of 6-12 th graders have a cell phone and 68% regularly bring them to school." These multifunctional phones are popular with young people because they offer instantaneous connections to friends as well as the ability to take pictures, access the Internet, watch video clips and send/receive text messages. (Features vary by model and subscription service levels.)

Since cell phones saturate our society, should they also permeate our schools? Should we regulate their use?

In this research, 112 high school principals from throughout the country responded to a structured questionnaire. Results offer a snapshot of current practices.

Most schools (84%) have adopted a written cell phone policy. Generally, they either completely ban or conditionally permit cell phone use by students. Violations result in disciplinary actions ranging from a mild reprimand to confiscation.

But do students have a right, legally or constitutionally, to carry their cell phones with them in school? No. Is there a rational and measurable educational benefit to student cell phone use in school? No. Do the potential negatives (disrupting others, taking embarrassing pictures, cheating on tests, inappropriate text messaging) clearly outweigh the benefits? Yes. Ironically, however, 24% of schools permit cell phone use by students.

Questions about teacher cell phone use were also asked. Surprisingly, one-third of principals agreed that "cell phone use by teachers adversely affects the sustained focus of teachers on the classroom/students". Furthermore, 22% believe "direct instructional time is lost due to cell phone use by teachers."

Although these negative perceptions are alarming, the research fails to identify the scope of the problem. Are all teachers, some teachers or a few teachers abusing the privilege? Lumping all teachers together does little more than proclaim and confirm an administrator's lack of leadership. Addressing each situation on a case by case basis is best practice.

In reality, few schools prohibit cell phone use by teachers according to this research. Enlightened administrators understand the limits of their authority when dealing with adults as well as the political ramifications. And many (73%) cite improved school safety when teachers have cell phones.

Exploiting cell phones in selected instances has merit. Equipping school bus drivers, teachers on field trips and school security personnel, are commendable examples.

As with all technologies, capitalizing on the benefits while simultaneously minimizing or eliminating negative effects, will enhance our educational environments.

Obringer, S.J. & Coffey. (2007, Winter) Cell phones in American high schools: A national survey. The Journal of Technology Studies. 33,(1),41-47.

By Dr. David Freitas and Dr. Janet Buckenmeyer


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Majority of teens discuss risky behaviors on MySpace, studies conclude

Public release date: 5-Jan-2009

Contact: Teri Thomas
Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Seattle

Majority of teens discuss risky behaviors on MySpace, studies conclude

Studies validate parental and physician concerns about teen online communications and suggest using MySpace to intervene

SEATTLE – January 5, 2009: In a pair of related studies released by Seattle Children's Research Institute and published in the January 2009 issue of Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine, researchers found that 54 percent of adolescents frequently discuss high-risk activities including sexual behavior, substance abuse or violence using MySpace, the popular social networking Web site (SNS). The studies, Adolescent Display of Health Risk Behaviors on MySpace, and Reducing At-Risk Adolescents' Display of Risk Behavior on a Social Networking Web Site, were led by research fellow Megan A. Moreno, MD, MPH, MSEd, and Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute, and the University of Washington.

With the rise in SNSs' popularity and use, parents and those who work with teens have concerns that these sites might expose teens to ill-intentioned online predators, cyberbullies and increased peer pressure. There are also fears that university enrollment and future hiring decisions may be compromised by what adolescents post online in personal profiles. SNSs like and are increasingly popular; MySpace, the most commonly used SNS, has more than 200 million profiles, with 25 percent belonging to youth under 18, according to multiple studies.1, 2

"As with television, movies, games and all media, social networking sites are neither inherently good nor bad," said Christakis, Director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Children's. "Their upside needs to be acknowledged even as we remain concerned about their downside. We need to devise ways to teach teens and their parents to use the internet responsibly. In the 90's we talked about a digital divide that separated rich from poor. That divide is quickly narrowing, but a new one is emerging rapidly: the 21st century digital divide separates too many clueless parents from their Internet-savvy children."

In their study Adolescent Display of Health Risk Behaviors on MySpace, the research team collected information directly from readily available public MySpace profiles. A total of 500 randomly chosen Web profiles of self-reported 18-year-old males and females from the United States provided the data. Researchers examined the extent to which high-risk behaviors were reported in the profiles, as well as any correlations that suggested that certain behaviors may be influenced by other items, interests or activities. They found that 54 percent of the MySpace profiles contained high-risk behavior information, with 41 percent referencing substance abuse, 24 percent referencing sexual behavior and 14 percent referencing violence. In the study, females were less likely to display violent information than males, and teens who reported a sexual orientation other than "straight" showed increased displays of references to sexual behaviors. Profiles that demonstrated church or religious involvement were associated with decreased displays of risky behaviors, as were profiles that indicated engagement in sports or hobbies.

"Online displays of risky behaviors may actually just be displays," said Moreno, formerly a research fellow at Children's and now Assistant Professor of Adolescent Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "Some teens may be grandstanding, or may be indicating intention or considered behavior. If that's the case, then there's a silver lining because this presents opportunities for education and prevention before risky behavior takes place." Moreno adds, "When online displays of dangerous behavior discuss actual behaviors, the good news is that teens may be amenable to participating in online interventions. Our related study looked at this, and we were happy to see that even a brief email intervention may be feasible and showed promise for influencing online behavior."

The researchers' pilot study Reducing At-Risk Adolescents' Display of Risk Behavior on a Social Networking Web Site examined whether a physician's online communication to teens about references to sex and substance abuse found in their MySpace profile would have a positive impact on reducing online display of such behaviors in the SNS. Looking at 190 self-described 18 to 20-year olds with public MySpace profiles that met study criteria for being at-risk, the profiles received a single intervention email from "Dr. Meg," the physician online profile of Moreno, who became a MySpace member. Her profile displayed information about her professional credentials and research interests. The email was sent from within the MySpace system to the subjects' profiles, and no personal emails were used. The intervention provided basic information about the risky nature of online personal disclosures and also provided a resource link to a Web site containing information about testing for sexually transmitted infections.

Three months after the MySpace email intervention, the same online profiles were evaluated again for references to sex and substance use, as well as any changes in profile security settings (switching from a "public" to a "private" profile). At the beginning of this study, 54 percent of subjects referenced sex and 85 percent referenced substance use. After the email intervention, 13 percent of the profiles decreased references to sex behaviors, and 26 percent decreased their substance use references. Ten percent of the profiles changed their security listings from "public" to "private," and a total of 42 percent of the profiles implemented any of these three protective measures. Of those who received the email intervention females were most likely to eliminate sexual references.

Using results from both studies, the researchers conclude that SNS are readily available tools to identify displayed health information and also to communicate with teens about these displays, and they are another way parents and physicians can learn about how adolescents make health-related choices. They add that adolescence is a period of identity exploration which now includes online identity, and adolescents may be open to communicating with health professionals about their online displays. The researchers provide tips for parents and healthcare providers:


For edited audio bites of Dr. Dimitri Christakis discussing findings from both studies, MySpace and helpful tips for parents, please visit:

For more helpful related information visit: safety for teens,,, and

In the Adolescent Display of Health Risk Behaviors on MySpace study, Drs. Moreno and Christakis were joined by Frederick J. Zimmerman, PhD, also from Children's and the University of Washington (UW), and Malcolm R. Parks, PhD, from the UW, along with Tara E. Brito from the University of Notre Dame. For the second study, Reducing At-Risk Adolescents' Display of Risk Behavior on a Social Networking Web Site, Moreno and Christakis were again joined by Zimmerman from Children's and the UW, Parks from the UW, and Ann VanderStoep, PhD, and Ann Kurth, PhD, both from the UW.


1. Bausch, S, Han L. Social networking sites grow 47%, year over year, reaching 45% of Web users, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. Nielsen Ratings Web site. Accessed January 8, 2008.

2. Granneman S. MySpace, a place without MyParents. Security Focus Web site. Accessed January 8, 2008.

About Seattle Children's Research Institute

At the forefront of pediatric medical research, Seattle Children's Research Institute has nine major centers, and is internationally recognized for advancing discoveries in cancer, genetics, immunology, pathology, infectious disease, injury prevention and bioethics. In its quest to cure childhood disease, the research institute brings discoveries to the bedside in partnership with Seattle Children's Hospital and Seattle Children's Hospital Foundation. Together they are Seattle Children's, known for setting new standards in superior patient care for more than 100 years. Children's serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine, which consistently ranks as one of the best pediatric departments in the country. For more information visit


Friday, January 16, 2009

ConnectSafely - Tips to Help Stop Cyberbullying

Tips to Help Stop Cyberbullying


Don't respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you. Who wants to empower a bully?

Don't retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully's behavior. Help avoid a whole cycle of aggression.

Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You need to do this even if it's minor stuff, in case things escalate.

Talk to a trusted adult. You deserve backup. It's always good to involve a parent but - if you can't - a school counselor usually knows how to help. Sometimes both are needed. If you're really nervous about saying something, see if there's a way to report the incident anonymously at school.

Block the bully. If the harassment's coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If it's in chat, leave the "room."

Be civil. Even if you don't like someone, it's a good idea to be decent and not sink to the other person's level. Also, research shows that gossiping about and trash talking others increases your risk of being bullied. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Don't be a bully. How would you feel if someone harassed you? You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone's shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression. That's needed in this world.

Be a friend, not a bystander. Watching or forwarding mean messages empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop or let them know harassment makes people look stupid and mean. It's time to let bullies know their behavior is unacceptable - cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you can't stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behavior.

For more info:

* Cyberbullying & Cyberthreats: Responding to the Challenge of Online Social Aggression, Threats, and Distress, by Nancy Willard
* Bullying Beyond the Schoolyard: Preventing and Responding to Cyberbullying, by Sameer Hinduja and Justin Patchin
* Cyber Bullying: A Prevention Curriculum for Grades 3-5 and Cyber Bullying: A Prevention Curriculum for Grades 6-12, by Susan Limber, Robin Kowalski, and Patricia Agatston


bNetS@vvy: Net Savvy Parenting in the New Year: Five Things You Need to Know

Net Savvy Parenting in the New Year: Five Things You Need to Know

By Anne Collier

Porn producer leans on iPhone to lure new customers | Geek Gestalt - CNET News

Final report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force

Internet Safety Technical Task Force Releases Final Report on Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies

January 14, 2009

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University today released the final report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force, a group of 29 leading Internet businesses, non-profit organizations, academics, and technology companies that joined together for a year-long investigation of tools and technologies to create a safer environment on the Internet for youth.

The Task Force was created in February 2008 in accordance with the Joint Statement on Key Principles of Social Networking Safety announced in January 2008 by the Attorneys General Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking and MySpace. The report was delivered to the 52 Attorneys General in December, 2008.

To read the final report, including the executive summary, as well as reaction statements from members of the Task Force, visit:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Associated Press: Panel: Technology alone can't protect kids online

Panel: Technology alone can't protect kids online

By ANICK JESDANUN – 1 day ago

NEW YORK (AP) — A task force charged with assessing technologies for protecting children from unwanted contact online has concluded that no single approach is foolproof and that parental oversight is vital.

The Harvard-led panel, in a report obtained by The Associated Press and scheduled for release Wednesday, dismissed prospects for age-verification technologies, the approach favored by many law-enforcement officials who had pushed for the creation of the task force.

The yearlong Internet Safety Technical Task Force also played down fears of Internet sexual predators who target children on social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. While citing other dangers such as online bullying, the panel said cases of predators typically involved youths well aware they were meeting an adult for sexual activities.

Technology can be a component in the strategy to protect minors online, but Internet companies "should not overly rely upon any single technology or group of technologies as the primary solution," the task force said.

"Parents, teachers, mentors, social services, law enforcement and minors themselves all have crucial roles to play in ensuring online safety for all minors," the report said.

The findings come as little surprise as law enforcement, Internet companies, child-safety advocates and policy makers seek to address fears of Internet sexual predators.

Rather, the report serves to synthesize what many researchers and child-safety advocates have been saying. The report also identifies areas in which more studies are needed — on what sex offenders do at social-networking sites, and how minors are approached sexually by other minors.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, one of the leading forces behind the task force's creation, criticized the report for relying on "outdated and inadequate" research to downplay the threat of predators. Blumenthal said the task force should have made more specific recommendations for implementing and improving technologies.

"The report is a step forward, but it has to be followed by other steps," Blumenthal said in an interview.

Parry Aftab, a child-safety advocate with task-force member, said the group produced a report that essentially "we could have done without spending a year. We could have said there isn't enough research out there."

But she said she agreed with its conclusions: Kids are typically at risk because they put themselves at risk rather than because they are tricked, and technology isn't enough to address that.

The task force was headed by Internet scholars at Harvard University and grew out of an agreement MySpace reached with most state attorneys general a year ago. Members of the panel include Internet service companies and nonprofit groups, including those focused on children's safety.

The panel's recommendations are nonbinding.

John Palfrey, the Harvard law professor who served as task force chairman, said the panel had no funding for new research and saw its role as synthesizing the disparate studies already conducted.

The task force recommended that companies develop best practices and, before implementing any technology, consider how well it addresses actual risks minors face online and whether it infringes on users' privacy and other rights.

Hemanshu Nigam, chief security officer at News Corp.'s MySpace, welcomed the task force's findings and said it "identifies key areas on which industry can focus efforts to increase online safety."

Companies that make age-verification technologies were among the leading critics on the task force.

Aristotle International Inc. said in a statement that the task force shifted from its mandate to focus on identity-authentication tools.

"The report is unfocused and addresses far too many non-SNS (social-networking site), non-technical issues," Aristotle said. "Many recommendations are generic, obvious and redundant."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cyberbullying Package

Dear Educators,


CyberSmart! is extraordinarily pleased to announce the release of our CyberSmart! Cyberbullying Package, a positive and empowering suite of K-12 lessons.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Parental controls in Vista

Parental controls in Vista




Controlling your children’s computer time is important. They can get in trouble if left on their own. The Internet is full of adult material. And downloading files, as kids are apt to do, can be dangerous. You can end up with a malware-infected computer.


It’s a serious concern for parents. I should know. I get a lot of questions on this topic. Parents want to know the best way to protect their kids. Do they need to buy software? Should they just lock the computer in a closet?


Well, there are many tools to help you out. One of the simplest is on Windows Vista computers. Vista's parental controls allow you to monitor and protect your children.


Their own account


First, your children need a separate user account. You can have an account for all your children. Or each child can have an individual account. Begin by clicking Start>>Control Panel. Check the left panel to be sure you're in Classic View. Double-click User Accounts. Then, click “manage another account”>>”create new account.”


Give the new account a name. Be sure the Standard User button is selected. Click Create Account.


Read more:

Read this before giving kids an iPod touch

Read this before giving kids an iPod touch




The latest and greatest music players make great gifts. I’ve been getting mail from parents on just that topic. While shopping around, they’re realizing just how full-featured these players are. And that’s raising concerns for some.


The most popular choice is, of course, the iPod. And the top-of-the-line version is the iPod touch. The touch isn’t just a music player. It can do a whole lot more. That includes video and Web surfing. That makes it a full-featured multimedia player.


Inevitably, when you combine video and Web surfing, along comes pornography. This makes some parents hesitant to get one for their kids.


The iPod touch does have built-in parental controls. The parental controls can’t recognize and block adult content. Instead, you turn off specific features like the Safari Web browser. (All of these controls are also in the iPhone)


On the touch, tap Settings>>General>>Restrictions. Next, tap Enable Restrictions and enter a four-digit code. This will let you lock the settings. Now, you’ll have several features you can switch off. These are Explicit iPod Content, Safari, YouTube, iTunes and Installing Apps.


When you switch off content or features, they remain on the touch. They’re simply hidden and unusable. For example, iTunes tags some content as Explicit. Restricting this content makes it invisible on the touch.


If you want to block porn, restrict Safari and YouTube. Restricting Safari closes a lot of doors. Kids won’t be able to access online porn. YouTube is a separate application, so you must restrict it as well. Theoretically, YouTube does not allow porn on its site. But the site struggles to take down inappropriate content. It’s not hard to find adult videos.


Read more:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tech Parenting Discussion

Tech-parenting from our POV
"Is it smart or sneaky for parents to have accounts on Facebook or
MySpace to monitor their children's behavior?" "I won't let my teenager
on Facebook or MySpace. Is that a mistake? Should I?" "Of the social
networks, which do you consider to be the most safe, and which do you
consider to be least safe?" Those are just a few of dozens of questions
from parents around the US my co-director Larry Magid
and I (Anne Collier) enjoyed answering in a one-hour, live online
discussion at the Washington Post last week. It's now archived at the
Post's Web site

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