Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How DADS can help

As a parent of 4 new users to the Internet, and a volunteer with Wiredsafety.org, I and my wife have been spending a lot of time learning and educating others in my community (Northern Virginia, USA) and school system about how to help families maintain their privacy, avoid harrassment, stop personal or automated intrusions and generally provide a safe communications and surfing environment for themselves and their children when using computing devices.

A child's access to unmoderated and unsolicited material from the Internet is typically quite easy. Whether on unsuspecting parent's computers, over their cell phone, at their friend's houses or simply on their own computers in their bedrooms, children need a lot of assistance from their parents, friends, community, school, law enforcement, local businesses and the technology industry in general in keeping them safe. There do exist many interest groups, technologies, law enforcement-supported programs, online knowledgebases and software products to help parents and businesses maintain a safe online experience for those who need it.

But there's perhaps too many things a parent or family member needs to deal with, to 'lock-down' an environment that wasn't meant to be, and probably shouldn't be, for the general public. A virtual and physical safe haven or "walled garden" can certainly be established by families, governments and businesses for their children, but it takes a lot of work and help. Us DADS can help, both ourselves and others. It starts with education. There are lots of opportunities to participate in the broader Internet Safety effort, as volunteers, parents, business owners and employees - here's where we can come up with good ideas and leverage our collective experience, interest and drive.

Let me know how you'd like this blog to develop - what topics, how much detail, what input you may have. For starters, go to www.wiredsafety.org, and poke around a bit. I think you'll be surprised and the depth and breadth of the issues, plus the kinds of resources available to help.

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