Sunday, September 16

Logged On and Tuned Out

As a mom of two, I travel the road of parenting pretty much like any other parent--kind of "winging" it as I go. Of course I hope that I've gained some wisdom and insight from my own life experience and from watching others who have done a successful job of parenting. But times are a-changin' and there's a lot out there that my mom didn't have to deal with when I was a kid. Enter the book Logged On and Tuned Out to offer some 21st century practical advice to parents of kids growing up in this technologically booming society.

When I received the book, I recognized the author as one I've read before. Vicki Courtney has authored several books on parenting and is the founder of Virtuous Reality, an organization that encourages girls to develop a heart and character that reflects moral excellence, worth, purity and strength. Vickie has also been featured on CNN and Fox News discussing child safety on the internet.

Now, although I don't consider myself to be a real "techie" as far as computers and the internet go, I can make my way around the Net, blogs, instant messaging and such. But truth be told, surfing the web as an adult is a whole different ball game from allowing your kids to venture into those waters. And for a parent who isn't as attached to their email or blog as I am, the outlook can be bleak in the realm of guarding your kids from the unique dangers of these advances.

Logged On and Tuned Out is a "keep-your-kids-safe-for-dummies" kind of a book related to all things high-tech (the logged on part). It addresses everything from the internet in general to other communication devices including cell phones and instant messaging . It is specifically geared toward parents who aren't technically inclined (the tuned out part). It provides a myriad of suggestions and techniques for knowing what your kids are exposed to as well as what your kids are exposing of themselves.

I liked two things in particular about this book. First, the author makes the point that my kids absolutely are going to enter the virtual world. I may not know when they begin setting up their own web pages and text messaging their friends, but it is an inevitable feature of our environment today. If I don't teach my kids to safely and appropriately interact with others electronically, I will be inviting them to take lessons from their friends. And I might not like what they learn. If you think that you've got years before your kids will want to use the computer interactively, think again. My daughter was in fourth grade the first time she asked me if she could get on Club Penguin. She had learned about this interactive web site targeted to elementary age kids from her friends at school. I was stunned at the time, but it was a wake up call.

Second, the author debunks the argument against "invading" my children's privacy. She makes the point that whatever is posted on the internet, sent as a text or instant message or done electronically in any way, becomes a permanent and public part of my kids' histories. All these things can be saved and redistributed by other people and it can and will end up in the hands of people that we'll never know to pop up again at any time. Because of this, I'm simply looking at information that anyone can access and I have a responsibility to ensure that they are behaving safely and appropriately.

Probably the best feature of the book is that it is written with the assumption that the parent doesn't know much about technology. For this reason, it's easy to read and specific in details. The book includes a handy appendix that outlines a list of safety rules for each mode of communication. As well, you can download a copy of her suggested safety contracts at www.loggedonandtunedout.com.

I highly recommend that you pick up this book even if you are online all the time. It is an easy, practical read and will provide some thought-provoking dialogue between you and your kids. You can pick it up for a bargain price of $12.99 from B&H Publishing Group. You'll learn things that you hadn't thought of before. The first thing I did upon finishing the book was to set up a Google alert for each of my kids names, as well as their pseudonyms that I use on my blog. I'd never thought of doing that before. Thanks to this book, now I have.

5 of Your THINKS:

Debbie said...

That sounds like a great book even for folks without kids.

Thad said...

Sounds like a great "Block" for the kids at church on Wednesdays....Maybe you should talk to the children's pastor about teaching it!

Melanie said...

Some great information! I'm pretty good with the computer but my 15 year old step-daugther is better. To her- privacy is important and to me her safety is important. I like the point that everything she does online can be accessed by anyone, so we are not snooping by checking up on her. I still don't think she'll see it that way though.

Rochelle said...

This subject can't be emphasized enough... just watch the Dateline 'sting' operations sometime. It'll chill you to the bone that someone's daughter is out there talking online with those perverts.

Vicki Courtney said...

Thanks for the positive review! I'm a consistent blogger so stop in and visit sometime. Love your blog!