Tech Safety Guide

The PTC aims to provide parents with the tools they need to make informed television viewing decisions. But we also know that your child's media influences can come in a variety of forms. Our Tech Safety Guide includes information on how to protect your children from the various entertainment technologies: Internet, cell phone, video games, and television.

Did You Know?

  • The average age for a child’s first exposure to pornography on the Internet is 11-years-old.
  • internetuse79% of youth unwanted exposure to pornography occurs in the home.
  • 80% of 15-17-year-olds reported having multiple exposures to hard-core pornography
  • 90% of 8-16-year-olds report having viewed porn online, most while doing homework
  • There has been an increase in sexual material being presented to children despite the use of Internet filtering, blocking and other monitoring software being used by their parents at home.
  • Over half (51%) of parents either do not have or do not know if they have software on their computer(s) that monitors where their teenager(s) go online and with whom they interact.
  • Nearly three out of 10 (28%) of parents don't know or are not sure if their teens talk to strangers online.
  • 30% of parents allow their teenagers to use the computer in private areas of the house such as a bedroom or a home office. Parents say they are more vigilant about where their teen(s) go online if the computer is in a public area of the household.
  • 58% of parents surveyed say they review the content of what their teenager(s) read and/or type in chat rooms or via Instant Messaging; 42% do not.
  • Four percent of children received aggressive solicitation from adults who attempted to meet the children in person.
  • Four percent of the children surveyed reported that online solicitors requested nude photos of them.
  • Acquaintances were major players in unwanted online solicitations, which included harassment; 14 percent were from off-line friends.
  • Children’s character names, including Pokemon and Action Man are linked to thousands of porn links.

 

Do U Speak TXT?

Many US teens view their mobile phone as an extension of themselves.  Some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones; up from 45% in 2004, and according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, 45% of teens say their cell phone is the key to their social life. 

Text stat1But you may be surprised to learn that teens are not primarily using their cell phones to talk.  According to the Pew Internet & American Life Project, “Among all teens, the frequency of use of texting has now overtaken the frequency of every other common form of interac­tion with their friends.”  And the younger the teen, the more likely they are to interact with peers through text messages.   According to a recent Nielsen study, the typical teenager (age 13-17) sends or receives 3,146 text messages each month, or roughly 10 messages per hour—one every six minutes—for every hour not spent in school or sleeping.

Tween and teen texters often use abbreviations and chat lingo to communicate that many parents don’t understand.  According to one recent survey, 95% of parents couldn't identify common chat room lingo that teenagers use to warn people they're chatting with that their parents are watching (POS for Parent over Shoulder and P911 for Parent Alert).  If you want to ensure your child isn’t being bullied by peers, engaging in unsafe sexual behaviors, or getting drunk or using drugs, here are some of the key phrases and acronyms you should be aware of.  Keep in mind that different peer groups often develop their own shorthand.

If you choose to allow your child to carry a cell phone, ask your service provider about phones and plans for kids that will allow you to control who your child can call or receive calls from, what kind of content they can download, and the number of text messages they can send.  Consider opting for phones that do not have built-in cameras or web browsers.

Sign up for a service that will allow you to receive copies of your child’s text messages.  But before you do, be sure your child is aware you will be monitoring their cell phone use.  One such service, www.mymobilewatchdog.com, will monitor cell phone calls, text messages, instant messaging, picture messages, and e-mail and will notify you when your child receives any of the above, as well as give you access to the content. You receive the same message as your child.

Technology has helped us to become more connected, but it has also made keeping our children safe more challenging. 

 

Setting Healthy Limits on Media Use

Need some practical advice on how to set limitations on children's access to television, how to talk with your children about what they view, and how to set a good example for your children with your own viewing habits?  Here are some helpful tips and advice from some of the nation’s leading authorities on how children are affected by the media they consume.

  • Don't use TV, videos, video games, computer games and music as baby sitters.
  • Limit the use of media to no more than two quality hours a day.
  • Keep TV, video players and computers out of children's bedrooms, and turn off the TV during mealtime. All screens should be visible to parents, not just the user.
  • Only watch TV when there is something specifically worth watching.
  • Don't make the TV the focal point of the house.
  • Watch TV with your children and teach them about advertising and the influence media has.
  • Be careful about what your child watches just before bedtime. Or avoid it all together.   Later TV viewing may seem relaxing but it is quite the opposite, over stimulating children and causing sleep problems http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/104/3/e27
  • Learn about new movies and videos and set guidelines for your child about what is appropriate.

 

Be a critical viewer

  • Set a good example: Limit your use of media and be a discriminating viewer.
  • Parents affect children's media use by setting an example, by exposing children to television, by watching with their children (or not doing so), and by encouraging or regulating their children's viewing.
  • Young children are often present and exposed to the programming watched by their parents.
  • Viewing choices are typically guided by the parents' tastes, not those of the children.
  • Parents own viewing habits and preferences are a powerful source of modeling and early exposure to television for young children. The amount and kind of television that young children "see" depends considerably on the amount and kind of viewing parents do.
  • For young children, exposure to adult programs occurs with parents more than without them.
  • Siblings also influence program choices. Children with older siblings move away from educational programs and towards cartoons and situation comedies at an earlier age than those without older siblings.
  • Parents or older siblings who co-view television with children can make the experience worthwhile. Adults who watch with children and offer comments and interpretations of content improve the amount that children learn from educational programs. Adult explanation also improves children's understanding of plots, characters, and events in dramatic programs.
  • Television can provide an occasion for parents to discuss values, beliefs, and moral issues.