A non credit course entitled “Keeping Kids Safe Online” will be offered at Plymouth State University on Saturday, November 17, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Offered through the Frost School of Continuing and Professional Studies Community Education program, the class will be taught by information technologist Vasken Hauri. This course offers parents, grandparents, educators, and anyone else who works and/or lives with children of every age a proactive approach to monitoring children’s online activities.
The Internet offers individuals a never-before-seen opportunity to make their voices heard, literally across the globe. For children and teens especially, the communication opportunities accessible by instant messaging, cell phones, and social networking sites like MySpace.com are a tempting and familiar means of staying in touch with friends.
One of the most common problems for younger web surfers is that, while they are tech-savvy enough to put their information out into cyberspace, many lack the technical expertise to determine just how far and wide their private information is traveling. For example, unless otherwise specified, a child’s MySpace profile, which might contain pictures of them and their friends, their cell phone number, school attended, or other private information, is publicly accessible to anyone in the world with an Internet connection. Instead of a passive method using expensive software that encourages a “sit back and hope” approach, an active monitoring method of your child’s Internet activity is a preferable way to keep them safe online.
During the course, participants will set up accounts on sites including MySpace and Facebook. This is designed to encourage the understanding and exploration of the security settings that children can use to limit access to their personal information. As a member of these sites, you will be able to see the information that your child has placed in their profile, just as a complete stranger could. Armed with this knowledge, you will be able to guide your child through the process of limiting access to social networking sites. This process encourages the child to think about how widely available their private data really is. It will also make them aware that you are conscious of his or her online presence and can keep tabs on it.
“Leet” speak, a sort of abbreviated/code language that younger surfers use to communicate online, often with the intention of not being understood by parents, will also be explored. The class will use a leet dictionary site on the Web to provide translations and will learn how to check past conversation histories (or recognize the suspicious signs that such histories have been deleted).
If you can use the Internet or type a document in Microsoft Word, you have all the knowledge you will need to begin the important task of keeping your child safe online.
Vasken Hauri is a desktop support technician at PSU where he provides technical support for about 800 faculty and staff computers. He also teaches Introductory Latin and is an expert in Greek and German.
For more information, call 603-535-2228 or 535-2868 or visit the website: www.plymouth.edu/frost/communityeducation/courses/technology.html