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Raising a Digital Child

For many parents, raising a child from birth to adulthood in this era of the Internet and all things digital is a daunting prospect.  To help make this transition, the PBS video, Growing Up Online, is an excellent introduction on what it means to be coming of age in the Internet era.

From a different perspective, Mike Ribble has written a book for parents to help guide them in Raising a Digital ChildClick here for an excerpt about determining your digital compass.  Additionally, he outlines the nine elements of a digital citizen.  This book is available from the MPA Library. 

Cyber-Safe Kids, Cyber-Savvy Teens by Nancy Willard is designed to help young people and their parents learn to use the Internet safely and responsibly.  It is available through the Middle School Office.

Some additional parent resources are found at Common Sense Media.  Sign up for an account and connect with others at MPA to find reviews or information about a variety of media.  Grade by Grade guides for media activities help parents to make informed decisions.  Download the 5-6th grade guide here....

The FTC has launched Netcetera, a fee downloadable publication about
Cybersafety.  It's aimed at parents and teachers, and offers good common sense
information and advice.  They will also send out free printed copies in English
or Spanish. No scare tactics or sensationalism and you can get it directly from

The site, GetNetWise, is a wealth of information for parents about kids' safety, spam and security and provides links to products and services.  

Say Yes to No for parents is a site for programs and services to help parents become more adept at setting limits and rules in this new digital age.

Are Children at risk for online predators?  Nancy Willard, director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use writes in her latest blog entry...

"The overwhelming majority of young people are at no risk on online predation from strangers. The data on this (unfortunately 2000) indicated there were 500 arrests for online predation by strangers compared to 65,000 other arrests for sexual abuse of minors.

Children are not at risk. Predators target highly vulnerable teens who are providing online indicators (material and conversations) that they are vulnerable and interested in sex.

Young people face far greater risk from their peers. So separating minors from adults will not protect kids and teens. Further, minors generally become adults in their senior year of high school. Trying to convince teens that as soon as a peer becomes an adult he or she is now a potentially dangerous sexual predator and all contact should be ended would be an exercise in futility - to say the least.

On to digital identification:

In order to digitally identify someone, it is necessary for the Identity Provider to verify the identity and other variables, like age. This is pretty easy to do for adults, with credit cards or driver's licenses. Who has this data for minors? Bingo! Here is where you come in. Schools have this information. In a recent Berkman task force meeting, the ability of schools to identify minors started to take on real steam."  For more on this topic...

To look at the statistics is scary and, porn, and Michael Jackson were among the most popular items kids searched for online in 2009, as tracked by Symantec's OnlineFamily.Norton.

Symantec on Thursday revealed the top 100 favorite search terms among children 18 and under found by its free OnlineFamily.Norton service, which helps parents monitor their kids' online searches. Though innocuous terms like Sesame Street and "New Moon"--a popular movie in the Twilight vampire series--made the cut, sex showed up fourth on the list for boys and fifth for girls, following YouTube, Google, and Facebook as the three top terms.  Below is an overview summary of the results.  For the full here and for Norton's OnlineFamily site click here.


Some new stat comparisons....

As part of its multi-year public affairs campaign to address the emerging issue of teen digital abuse, MTV partnered with the AP on a study that provides an in depth look at the prevalence of digital abuse among young people today. This research was designed to quantify how young people are affected by and respond to issues like sexting, digital harassment and digital dating abuse.  Click here for the full article.

One of the most insidious and pervasive problems with children of all ages is bullying and particularly cyberbullying.  STOP cyberbullying from WiredSafety is a site dedicated to providing relevant information and help with this issue.  For more info....

Additionally, with the spread of cell phone use among children as young as grade 3, it is important for parents to educate themselves in texting here goes...
As your child uses text messaging more often, keep tabs both on the number of messages as well as the content and discuss any messages that sound threatening or dangerous. has created a website, It's My Life, for teens and their parents, that has videos, information and resources dealing with a variety of teen issues.  Check it out here.

Robin Raskin writes in her blog, Raising Digital Kids, about a variety of kid-related issues including the internet.  In her latest blog entry, she would "like to remind parents that the Internet is not an all-or-nothing place for kids. Just like you wouldn't give your kids the keys to the car and tell them to "grab a bunch of friends and drive across the country" on the first day that they're licensed drivers, you don't want to give them the entire Internet experience before they're ready either."  More...

FaceChipz is a new social networking site for parents AND children to help them learn to better navigate the web and connect with other kids using social networking.  The site is designed for parents to monitor their child's online behavior.  Signing up is a three step process:

  • Step One -- The kid creates their account.
  • Step Two - The parent sets up an account to monitor their child.
  • Step Three -- Parental consent is verified.

Internet Safety Rules

"The Court previously took judicial notice that every computer is manufactured with an on/off switch, that parents may utilize, in the end, to control the information which comes into their home via the Internet."

~ Judge Arthur J. Tarnow, in Cyberspace v. Engler

Parents, concerned with their child's online presence, might want to read more about internet safety from Karen Ellis, founder of Educational CyberPlayGround. The Educational CyberPlayGround provides the public, teachers, administrators, policy makers, parents, librarians, and home schoolers a "webliography" of links to educational resources in a wide range of subjects.

This site contains links to safety issues and suggestions for using computers at home. For the 10 Internet Safety on....

Students and other internet users who download or share songs and movies without paying for them have a new reason to reconsider their actions: In the first such case to go to trial, a federal jury on Oct. 4 ordered a Minnesota woman to pay $222,000 for sharing copyrighted music online. Read on...

What does this mean for MPA? Students have been taught basic copyright rules. They understand that downloading music from a website like Kazaa or Limewire is sometimes illegal. This has been a problem to control given how easy it is to get files. Any files.

Students, do you think your blog is a secret place to share your most private thoughts? Don't kid yourself. Anyone with an ounce of Internet-sleuthing ability can put your name to your blog without much trouble.

Search for yourself to find out what others might know about you....your driving tickets, your fines for barking dogs, your awe-inspiring or guffaw-inspiring finish times in the last couple of road races you ran -- all these things are available online. Do a search on your own name via Google, Yahoo!, or any other search might open your eyes. Read on...

Stop Cyber Bullying

Imagine this scenario.....

A 9-year old walks down a dark street late at night looking for new friends and experiences. Bar and restaurant patrons spilling onto the footpath observe this child, walking alone and desperately seeking someone to talk to - not just tonight but every night. Soon the child has new friends and feels comfortable enough to begin sharing personal information about themselves, their family and friends.

It is a scary picture but one that MIGHT happen when children are left to fend for themselves when using a computer. Read on....

Andy Carvin, an educational technology expert and Internet activist proposes that THIS FRIDAY, March 30 be Stop Cyber Bullying Day.  He started Stop Cyber Bullying, a social network to discuss cyberbullying, identifying resources and
solutions to address this epidemic of online cruelty.  Explore....

In a national survey done last spring by the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, 9 percent of 1,500 kids ages 10-17 reported being targets of online harassment; 28 percent reported making “rude or nasty comments to someone on the Internet.”  The study also found that kids who are targets of cyberbullies are three times more likely than non-victims to target others.  Read on...

School officials are beginning to take a tough stand, suspending or expelling students for creating online sites that allow bullying and other disturbing comments.  More....

At MPA we have several things in place to identify and stop bullying.  We use peer negotiators on the playground and Upper School Peer Leaders visit classes to talk to students about how they treat each other.  They help younger students to work out ways to be respectful towards other people.  In the Upper School we have collected information about bullying and we use it to talk to classes about their behavior.  In addition, Randy Comfort and I talk to the 9th grade seminar students about online safety issues.

On Thursday (Jan 5th) and Friday (Jan 6th) of last week, Randy Comfort and I spent time in each of the Biology classes, meeting with the 10th graders.  We explained the current acceptable use policy and encouraged a discussion about the use of the network at MPA.  We wanted to engage them in a dialog about how they use the network, some of the dangers they might experience and some of the frustrations teachers encounter when they use laptops in class. 

These meetings followed, in part, from the lively discussion that Bob Cooke and I had with the MPA Parent Association on Wednesday morning, Jan 4th, about technology issues.  Mentioned at the meeting was the article, Generation, in the December 12, 2005 Business Week Magazine.  This article describes the most common social networking sites and includes helpful hints when using them.  We would like to continue to meet with both parents and students on a regular basis about technology and how students are using their new-found "toy."  We also want to encourage parents to send any questions or comments about  social networking sites, the MPA acceptable use policy or understanding "digital kids" to Randy (Upper School), Bob (Middle School) or any Tech Coordinator (Nicole Wooldridge k-4, Marina Dale 5-8 or Theresa Reardon Offerman 9-12).  We want this weblog to be a forum for answering your tech questions.

Additional information from Parent Association meeting:

Generation M (for media) Stats

One consequence of online posting of information

Theresa & Randy shared these tips with the 10th graders:

Safety tips for teens: Dos and Don’ts


  • Post anything your parents, principal or a predator should
    see...including pictures, your full name, your address/telephone or
    your school
  • Set up a profile for your friends...everyone should set up his/her own profile on any website
  • share your password or choose an obvious one...examples include
    city, name of pet, zip code, telephone number...Remember to protect
    your ID online
  • Morph your picture, pixelate it or otherwise photoshop it so it is harder to copy and use
  • Put everything behind passwords...turn off links to strangers.
  • Use a free web-based email for any profiles you set up online...that way if things get bad you can just close it down.
Another source of safety links beyond the links on this blog:

Slacker Sites

I bet almost every adult has, buried in the dark recesses of the basement or attic, a battered copy of some tome left over from college. That yellow and black book is evidence of the transitory phase when you thought you could get away with little or no work. But years ago even sloth required a modicum of effort as you trudged to the bookstore to locate the correct "guide." Those times are long gone as the Internet, over the last 10 years or so, has changed all the rules.

Now, not only can students download their own tomes on Cliffs Notes, but there are dozens of competitive sites-called slacker sites-that cater to reading shortcuts, homework avoidance and blatant plagiarism.

It has been more than 25 years since I encountered my first case of students purchasing papers. In those days a student answered an advertisement in the newspaper or magazine. The Internet has streamlined the process so that in addition to literature guides, students can find paper brokers that will sell them essays or term papers customized for a specific topic, length, sources, etc. These sites make it easier to cheat and in some ways, easier to get caught. All a person has to do in many cases is enter the questionable phrase into a search engine such as Google and any websites or papers that use that phrase will be listed.

In addition, at MPA teachers use and as resources for checking those suspicious essays and websites.

But cheating isn't restricted to papers and essays. Students use sites such as Babel Fish to translate their words into another language and The Integrator to find solutions to calculus integration problems.

At MPA, the penalty is at least a zero for the assignment, but students have had their grades reduced and have even been suspended as teachers learn how to modify their courses in the age of the Internet.

Sample Book Guide Sites
Free Book is dedicated to finding all of the sites with free book notes or "free cliffs notes" and indexing all the individual free study guides and free book summaries for you on one easy to navigate site.
Looking for free book notes or free book summaries online? is a search engine for free book notes and literature study guides online similar to Cliffs Notes- including novel summaries and chapter summaries.

Sample Paper Broker Sites
:: Free Homework / Free Papers :: Add More Papers :: BEST Papers for $$$$ :: Great Papers < $10 :: The Sucks Report :: About School Sucks :: Privacy Promise ::

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This site is maintained by Upper School Technology Coordinator Theresa Reardon Offerman.