Interview With Internet Safety Expert, Nadine Norris

KidzClix Safe & Secure1.       Tell us about yourself.

I am a technology specialist for a school district in Oak Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. In my position, I am called upon to be an expert in the use of technology in teaching and learning. In addition, I have become an expert in the technology children use for entertainment, including social networking and virtual worlds. Most importantly, I am the mother of three very technology-driven teenagers.   A great deal of what I’ve learned has been from personal experience with my own children.

 2.       What do you enjoy most about your work?

 

I welcome opportunities to help people explore the truth about social networking sites and internet safety.  That’s why I am so honored and enthusiastic to be able to work with KidzClix in providing information to parents. 

 

3.        What should parents be most concerned about regarding their child’s use of the internet?

 

We need to be life-long learners when it comes to the Internet, because just when we think we know it all, new trends emerge. If I had to pick a topic that parents need to learn about, it would be cyber bullying.  Just like on the playground, your child may very likely encounter a situation when someone will use technology to bother or intimidate them. They need to be prepared and know that using bad manners online can sometimes be worse than encountering meanness offline.

 

4.       What other concerns should parents be aware of?

 

Make sure your child is extremely careful online. Don’t reveal personal information as there is a potential for identity theft, even for kids. For example, never share your password with anyone except your parent. Even your most trusted friend can be mad at you someday and potentially use your password to pretend she is you and perhaps behave badly and make people think it’s you saying mean things. Children also need to know that what’s online never goes away. Everything they say and every picture that’s posted can be copied and pasted, downloaded, reposted, emailed, IM’d, and used against them in some way—even if what was said or pictured is taken out of context.  Also, make sure your behavior online is of the same standard that you expect offline. Never share any information or say something that may someday embarrass you or your family.

 

5.       What are some ways that parents can protect their children?

 

·         First of all, be engaged with technology.  Learn about what others are doing on the internet and develop your own set of favorite activities, whether it be video conferencing with your out-of-town relatives, using Facebook to connect with classmates, finding recipes, or reading the news. You’ll be helping your children understand the benefits of the web from your direct modeling.

·         The best internet filter is a parent who shows real interest in their children’s online activities. When your kids are on the internet, ask them questions, compliment them on their good choices, and laugh at the videos they enjoy.

·         Teach children exit strategies for getting out of uncomfortable situations. Discuss how they may encounter people with bad manners and who make bad choices online, just like they do in “face-to-face” life.

·         Learn how to check the browser history to see which sites your children go to and what information they research (even informally), and respond to what you find with additional suggestions, not criticism.

·         Teach them common sense tips and tricks like, never click on a pop-up ad, don’t forward “chain emails” as to supply strangers with a list of the personal emails of all their friends, and if inappropriate content comes on the screen, treat it like an accident and close the browser window.

 

6.       What is the most important advice you can give a child about internet safety?

 

Tell your children that they can depend on you to help them. Studies show that even if children are likely to go to an adult when they are bullied on the playground, when it comes to internet bullying or harassment, they are NOT inclined to tell their parents. This is because they fear that parents will take their technology away, further isolating them from a tool that helps them stay engaged and connected. Let your children know that you will not over-react, but will instead help them come up with appropriate behaviors to avoid uncomfortable situations.

 

7.       What is your opinion of social networking sites for children?

 

Parents and educators should view social networking sites as a training ground for adult life. We can’t predict how life will be impacted by technology in five years, much less by the time our kids are adults. If almost all of our teenagers and young adults are online, I feel that it’s imperative that young children have a chance to interact online so they can learn about privacy and good behavior choices in an environment that is supervised by those who have their best interest in mind. In addition, there is such a tremendous benefit from meeting new people—interacting with others in another part of the country or even the world. Children can understand first-hand how relationships, cooperation, and collaboration can develop from being open to learning from and about others on the Internet.

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