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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Internet Safety

I went to a round table discussion yesterday where MySpace and internet safety were discussed. I didn't learn anything ground-breaking, but I gained a lot of new perspective. Sometimes I forget that although I'm not cutting edge, I am so steeped in internet culture that what is a basic concept for me is gibberish to another. For example a MySpace "friend" is not a universally understood entity, and I would never think to explain it to anyone. I've also come to the realization that I feel about internet filters the same way I feel about abstinence education. Just telling kids not to have sex will not stop them from experimenting, and some of them will end up in trouble because they didn't protect themselves. Similarly, if you just tell kids to stay away from social networking sites they might experiment anyway and put themselves and their family at risk because they don't know what to be on the lookout for or what information shouldn't be disclosed. MySpace has an excellent link list for websites on internet safety. The original list is here. The links they have are as follows: OnGuard Online: FTC Safety Tips Specifically geared toward teens and tweens this site has safety tips. More links are available. The site also has a place where complaints can be filed for fraud, ID theft, computer viruses, etc. Has a Spanish option. Internet Crime Complaint Center "The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). IC3's mission is to serve as a vehicle to receive, develop, and refer criminal complaints regarding the rapidly expanding arena of cyber crime." Enough said. This site has long been one of my favorites because it is flashy. Good looking websites always seem to be more positively received that badly designed websites. This looks cool enough not to be off-putting to kids-- and actually, it looks kind of fun. Also in Spanish. This one is for the parents. It defines commonly used acronyms and discusses safety tips. It also has some creepy examples of tactics pedophiles use. It seems more like fear-mongering, but if this is what you're getting asked to provide, here it is. This flash site looked good, but I was having trouble maneuvering through it. It says it had videos, but I didn't bother looking through them. This site has a quiz and an "internet safety plan". Extremely useful. This site has information about safety and how to work many popular social networking platforms. And as a bonus it's in forum format, so the questions are from real teens and parents. This is supported by AOL, Bebo, Facebook, Livejournal, MySpace, Xanga, and more. This site looks pretty similar to others on this list. It does have an option for pastors, which I didn't see on the other sites. This site also has free internet filtering software. I don't think filters are the way to go, but if someone wants one it is here. Also has some Spanish. National Crime Prevention Panel This site is relying pretty heavily off of McGruff, but it has some good information about cyberbulling. I would use NetSmartz instead of this. They did have some nice banners that librarians can use though. See below.

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