Gregory V. Boulware
Electronic access to online media is constantly changing. New technologies bring unique and unprecedented danger and risks to children. The Holy Bible states “Wisdom is for a protection the same as money is for a protection (Ecclesiastes 7:12) – “You can get anything by either wisdom or money, but being wise has many advantages.” Helping children to become wise as well as understanding how to avoid the dangers of surfing online is imperative.
The Internet should not be a tool to threaten and endanger the safety of anyone, let alone…children. Having a basic understanding of how the Internet works and the utilization of instant messaging, web page browsing, or the engagement of other online activities; do not certify one to be too old or uneducated to learn. Children that have access to the Net do need adult supervision. Parents really need to keep up with Internet trends and technology. Parents need to remember – many young people gain access to the Cloud (The term Cloud is used as a metaphor for the Internet see My Article: “Digitized Downsizing or Electronic Outsourcing”) via cell phones, video gaming consoles, and other handheld devices.
Youngsters are taught to drive an automobile safely. Parents can take a similar approach with the use of the Internet. One cannot forever restrict their children from operating a motor vehicle, but they can restrict the access and use to the Internet. Albeit, both activities are dangerous, monitoring a child’s use of the Net while letting them know you are is not an invasion of their space or an invasion of privacy – the World Wide Web is a public forum. In the United States, the F.B.I. is constantly reminding parental maintenance or their child’s access to online accounts, contacts, and email on a random basis. A U.K. cloud study has revealed “Nearly 1 in 7 youths between the ages of 8 and 20 have Internet access in their bedroom. Many aficionados of children study and advocacy recommend parents to keep the computer in a busy area of the home. This practice may help to keep tabs on Internet activity and may encourage children to avoid undesirable Web sites.
Decisions involving child Internet use, the length of time, and the sites they can and cannot visit, could provide a central guideline and firm understanding for the risks and dangers of the Cloud.
Tracking the health of more than 100,000 U.S. children from birth to age 21 was launched by the I.I.O.F. (International Institute of Health) in 2009. This study has been collecting data with a wide variety of tools. An expected 8,000 tablet PC’s were used by and for the study staff who profess to securely transmit data to the central coordinating center via VPN (Virtual Private Network). This data is to be stored in Oracle and SQL Server silos. “The size of the central database will certainly be many terabytes”, says Sarah Keim, Deputy Director for Operations and Logistics for the study, in an interview with Information Week Magazine, as reported by Marianne Kolbasuk McGee.
The values taught – and the examples set will go much further in the protection of children with access to the Cloud. Monitoring and tracking will only go so far. An open line of communication with children is the best line of defense against the ravages of the Net. Explaining the dangers of “bad” people and defining pornography are several reasons why they should never communicate with strangers.
Internet software and program controls are not fool proof. Many ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) may offer parental controls that act as “railings” (Ruby on Rails Abbreviated as RoR, Ruby on Rails (also referred to as just Rails - is an open source Web application framework, written in Ruby (object-oriented programming language), for developing database-backed Web applications. RoR closely follows the Model-View-Control (MVC) pattern, where models, views and controllers are fully integrated in a seamless fashion) attempt to block inappropriate “pop-ups” and access to harmful sites. Several other software programs keep children from divulging personal info, i.e., names and addresses, as well.
“Study teams for the I.I.O.F. collect and analyze genetic biological, and environmental samples from children across racial groups, income and education levels, and locations”, says McGee. “The IT architecture must support about 1,000 researchers and federal staffing in more than 100 locations. It must comply with federal data security and management standards – yet be reasonably easy to use”, states Keim.
The VPN and .NET applications are being utilized for the study project. Best-or-breed application modules from Westat serves as the research coordinating center – in tandem with a variety of other vendors as well, i.e., Booz Allen Hamilton and IMS Integrator.
The reality of course, is you cannot monitor children when they are outside the home. Therefore, it is important to install proper values in children so that they make wiser decisions when they are not in the presence of adult supervision, governing adults should spell out clearly what the consequences will be if the rules regarding the Cloud are broken. If broken, enforcement of rules, sanctions, and restrictions will be implemented.
Til next time…
The Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton Illinois, 1971
Children Online – What Parents Can Do, Awake 2008
It Takes a Village To Track A Child, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee, Information Week pg. 18, Oct.13, 2008