Before I became a new mum not so long ago, I did the best I could to prepare myself to take care of my little one by reading a lot books. From learning how to discern (possible) meanings behind baby's various cries to finding out what you can and can't feed your baby once they begin eating solids. It was tough, and I know it'll get easier in some aspects and more difficult in others as the baby grows up. Truth is, I'm pretty much looking forward to giving "the Cyber Talk" to my little one. And "the Tech Talk." And "the Privacy talk." Hey, we have to start them young, right?
At the moment, my nipper is too young to care about anything beyond Hey Duggee, so I can only imagine what parenting is like for those who have a child old enough to use a mobile device. Would they set their phone up to limit the child from opening its browser or tell them to not click buttons when certain pop-ups appear in the middle of a game?
To my dismay, Parenting in a Digital World paints the picture that many parents don't do a great job dealing with kids and technology—especially when it comes to online safety.
While more and more parents are handing over phones to younger and younger kids, I'm surprised that majority of parents don't put filtering or any sort of control on these devices, forgetting that their kids can be exposed to potential risks and not knowing how to deal with them. Not only that, "accidentally" losing thousands of dollars to micro-transactions can and actually does happen to parents who don't supervise their kids online.
Parenting in the Digital World: A Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Safety is a brilliant go-to guide for parents and guardians on how to create an online environment safe enough for their little ones to traverse. In its revised second edition, Clayton Cranford, the book's author, touched on themes that include social media safety, the importance of privacy, managing an online reputation, and creating balance in a child's technological life.
Read: Creating a better Internet starts now
Cranford is a leading and award-winning law enforcement professional based in California. For 20 years, he has been teaching about social media and child safety to kids and parents, and threat assessment investigation to law enforcement agencies everywhere in the United States. He has also handled numerous threat assessment cases across about 200 schools in his state.
If you're the mum or dad who is busy with work or taking care of the second newborn and feeling overwhelmed with the thought of trying to learn about these technologies, Cranford wrote Parenting in the Digital World just for you. In less than 100 pages, you'll get to know famous apps children use, ways to set up parenting controls for different OSes and gaming consoles, relevant security and privacy topics for conversations with your kids, and setting rules and expectations in the home about proper technology use.
I can name some things I love about Parenting in the Digital World. In the first half of the book, Cranford tells parents and guardians about the different types of social media, what are the problems with the platform, and when is an age-appropriate time for your kids to have profiles themselves. These sections also contain action plans that grown-ups can use to, say, make sure that the settings of their child's social media profile are appropriately configured for privacy.
Cranford also sheds light on topics beyond security and privacy that parents can talk to their kids about, such as depression, body image, the consequences of making physical threats online, and even pornography. I was also quite intrigued by the Internet & Mobile Device Usage Contract, which parents can use to foster responsibility for the devices their children use and accountability for what they post online. It's been a while since I've seen something similar, and I've always been interested in knowing how useful a working contract would be between parent and child.
The second half of the book contains detailed instructions and illustrations about all things parents may want to configure, from parental controls for the Xbox One to YouTube Safe Search and Apple iMessage Privacy.
While I wouldn't say "no' to having this book in my personal library, I felt it should have covered other social media risks kids and teens might encounter, such as bad bots (spammers) and trolls, and perhaps a sub-section on how to recognize compromised or fake accounts. I also think it would be helpful for both kids and parents to be given pointers on how they can discern dodgy apps from legitimate ones.
Read: When trolls come in a three-piece suit
Parenting in the Digital World: A Step-by-Step Guide to Internet Safety is as comprehensive and relevant as it was since its first publication three years ago. Cranford was right: As much as there are new devices, software, and websites, the sad reality is there are just some things—bad things—that remain the same. Online sexual exploitation, cyberbullying, and harassment cannot be fought off if we don't do something about it. Thankfully, parents and guardians can take action. After all, learning about Internet safety and securing a child's online environment begins in the home, too.
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