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A Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age

by James P. Steyer

Pub Date: May 8th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5734-0
Publisher: Scribner

Common Sense Media founder Steyer (The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media's Effect on Our Children, 2002) addresses common concerns of many parents in managing the online lives of their children.

Keeping track of the privacy and security aspects of social-media accounts can feel like a shell game for even the most astute Internet user. This seems especially true with regard to Facebook, whose enormous membership of 800 million users, coupled with their erratic shifting of privacy settings, has changed Mark Zuckerberg's college-dorm project into a potentially dangerous destination for millions of teenagers. Computer and Internet education in elementary schools has given young people a formidable working knowledge of technology that often outpaces that of their parents—and of their own ability to judge the safety of what personal information they put on the Internet. Steyer is well positioned to write cogently on this subject. As a parent and founder of an organization working to empower Internet consumers to protect themselves, he brings a pragmatic approach to managing adolescent Internet activity. Recognizing the likely futility of "banning the Internet" for today's kids, the author instead focuses on educating parents about "R.A.P."—relationships, attention/addiction problems and privacy—with case-study examples and concrete suggestions on appropriate guidelines to set for children organized by age groups. The approach includes recognizing and building on the positive aspects of social media, which will help minimize the negative aspects. Some of Steyer's recommendations are bigger-picture suggestions—e.g., challenging elected officials to take a serious look at updating the nation's privacy laws.

A useful, nuts-and-bolts handbook for concerned parents.