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Bill Gillies - Editor

Internet’s benefits far outweigh potential drawbacks

I posted yesterday about the national poll released by Common Sense Media that looked at some of the potentially negative aspects of teenage online behavior.  But on the whole, of course, the possible drawbacks pale in comparison to the Internet’s enormous benefits, such as helping teens support charities, volunteer, be creative, and improve their academic performance.  To wit:

-   54% have joined an online community or a “group” on Facebook or MySpace in support of a cause
-   53% post online creative writing or artwork that they’ve created.
-   50% post or share videos or music that they’ve created
-   45% organize or invite people to an event using a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace
-   34% volunteer for a campaign, nonprofit organization, or charity
-   26% participate in online study groups

Parents and children agree that the Internet is helping their academic performance.

-   75% of parents say the Internet helps their child’s studies, while just 5% say it hurts
-   67% of teens say the Internet helps their academic performance, while only 11% say it hurts.

The report offers advice to parents who want to help ensure their children practice safe surfing.  The best suggestions:

- Go online. Get yourself an account. Learn firsthand what kids are doing and what they can and cannot post.
- Talk about the nature of their digital world. Remind teens that everything they post can potentially be seen by a vast invisible audience. They need to think before they post, because anything they create or communicate can be cut, altered, pasted, and sent around – and it can last forever.
- Make sure they set their privacy settings. They aren’t foolproof, but they’re important. Show them where the privacy settings are.
- Set some rules for what is and isn’t appropriate for your kids to communicate, play, and post online. Posts about drugs or drinking, or sexual posing or activity will come back to haunt them. A good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face, you shouldn’t post it.

Tags: Family, School/College


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