Friday, December 7, 2007

Trekking thru Cyberspace

I watched 20/20 tonight, an ABC Network news show that comes on every Friday night. I generally watch if there is nothing else to watch (I can suffer from super news saturation) or if they are presenting something in particular that I want to learn more about. Tonight it was the latter rather than the former. They were doing stories on the internet and some of the atrocities (for lack of a better word) that occur in cyber space. I found out that you don't have to leave your home to be victimized, nor does an actual physical assault have to be carried out to make you a victim. Sometimes all it takes is having a computer that is capable of "going online." I remember the first time we hooked up a modem and went on line...it wasn't a very long session because we didn't actually have a server at the time, and we were more or less experimenting with what little knowledge we had. Did I say little? I mean minute. We heard the buzzing sound and tried to connect to my brother's computer. I don't remember if we were actually successful, the noise was so annoying that I left the room. High pitched buzzing makes me nuts. So I'm learning all about this phenomenon we call You Tube. You make a little movie that you think is so great and post it on You Tube for all and sundry to see. You want them to admire your expertise in whatever field you are endeavoring to break into...say mooning the world is your objective, it doesn't take much of a brain to figure out how that's done. Or maybe you want to ride through neighborhoods yelling obscenities or scaring little kids, well all you need is a camera. And a computer. Maybe you want to give that jerk at the local drive through restaurant something to think about, so you order an extra large drink and when it is handed out to you, you return it...minus the cup. Of course you record it for posterity. Now all this time you want everyone to know how smart you are, what a wow of an entertainer you have become with your trusty camera and loyal computer. So you put your name on everything and show your face and talk about how great you felt when you were doing the dirt. The thing is, most of the perpetrators are in their early teens. Their brains haven't developed enough to grasp the concept of forever. They know that Cyberspace is forever. They just don't know what forever means. They haven't matured enough to know that what you thought was so cool and funny at say, fourteen, isn't perceived as quite the done thing when you are forty. And while you may develop memory loss problems, Cyberspace will remember you and all your friends and every vile thing you did to inflict pain on another human being forever. Kids bullying kids online, in their own homes is quite common. It's something that a lot of kids don't know how to handle because they don't want to involve their parents in it. Not on purpose anyway. It's the same as ratting. So how do we as parents get a handle on "cybercrime"in the teen world? Keep that computer out in a public area, learn the lingo (everyone knows that lol means laugh out loud, but there are other shortcuts like "pos" parent over shoulder to warn that a parent is watching). You don't have to be over their shoulder every second, but make sure you walk by them frequently so that they aware you're there. It's the best form of protection, for them. Google your kids names about once a week and don't be surprised if you find it popping up. If you don't know how to google someone, it's quite easy. Just type their name in the google search engine. If their name appears, find out WHY it popped up. The most important thing is to talk to your kids, ask them questions about what they do online, and don't buy that "just doing research for a paper..." that might be exactly what they're doing 3 out of 10 times. If you're lucky. And remind the kids that what they post online today can still be found by colleges they may want to attend later, future employers and yes, political parties should they ever decide to run for office. I don't think I'd be voting for some little jerk who spent his spare time harassing the public rather than assisting it. Most important of all is always to arm yourself with knowledge. And then don't be afraid to use it.

9 comments:

Mary said...

Thanks for the warning Sandi.

Kari (GrannySkywalker) said...

A couple of years ago, we googled the kids names just for fun. Poor Jacob. Apparently, he has the same name as a gay porn star. Kaleb thought that was hilarious. So we googled his name, too. ALSO, a gay porn star. At that point, I was a little outraged. ONE was funny. TWO? Now that was just WRONG. I said outloud, "Who's naming all these gay porn stars after my children?". To which Kaleb quietly replied, "Who's naming their children after all these gay porn stars?".
We closed down the google screen after that and went on about our business.

Sandi McBride said...

Another good laugh for the day...and why did you name your children after gay porn stars?

Mockingbird Hill said...

I saw this too...and, I may be a stick in the mud, but where are these parents and why do they NOT know what their teenagers are and what they are doing? And, who ever taught these kids that being cruel to others was acceptable? I guess I was lucky...my daughter never gave me these kinds of headaches...

Have a fun weekend...Cassie

Sandi McBride said...

I totally agree there...I always knew where my kids were...could have been all those cop brothers who reported on them...but how a parent can consider condoning any of these actions is beyond me...ever heard the phrase "I'll tear your ass out of the frame?" It may be a South Carolina saying, but it's a good one!!!

joan said...

I didn't see this Sandi but great advise. My kids were growing up just when computers started to come into play in homes so I didn't have to deal with what's going on now. I was so dumb about the computer lingo that I at first thought LOL meant lots of love....now I'm LOL....heehee

justabeachkat said...

Great post. We live in a scary world.

Hugs!
Kat

Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Sounds alarming...

Penny @ Lavender Hill Studio said...

Hi Sandi,
What a great post. I am glad we did not have internet service when my kids were growing up! It is so scary.
Penny

p.s. thanks for stopping by and saying such nice things about the mosaic birdhouse I made for Kim at Daisy Cottage! I would be happy to make one for you, if you ever want :-)