Post in our forum for parents, teens - You! - at

Friday, August 31, 2007

A Net founder comments on social Web

"The Internet should not be used as a scapegoat for society's ills," Vint Cerf told the BBC. Cerf, who is considered one of
the "fathers" of the Internet for the role he played during its early stages, was speaking on BBC Radio. He argued against over-regulation of the Net, after some members of Britain's Conservative Party proposed government limits on sites young people can use, including YouTube which is owned by Google, where Cerf now serves as chief Internet evangelist. Cerf's comments were specifically about Web 2.0, or the social Web. "Most of the content on the network is contributed by the users of the Internet," he said, "so what we're seeing on the Net is a reflection of the society we live in." Cerf pointed out that Google, like other search engines, can be configured to help parents limit the types of sites their kids can find.

Labels: ,

Teen jailed for posting nude photo

A 19-year-old was sentenced to 30 days in prison for posting a nude photo of his ex-girlfriend on MySpace, the Associated Press reports. "Anthony D. Rich pleaded no contest Tuesday to child abuse and attempted child abuse. Prosecutors reduced the charges from sex crimes that could have branded Rich a sex offender for life." He was 17 when he posted the photo of the 15-year-old girl after they broke up. The AP reports that the girl consented to having her picture taken but not to having it posted.

Labels: ,

Connected family reunions

"Do you have wi-fi?" A logical question from any teen-aged second cousin once removed. It was the type of question, anyway, that New York Times contributor Roger Mummert received at the beginning of a family gathering at his house - the "first inkling of how the vastly expanded electronic and informational needs of houseguests would flavor our time together. Soon guests were positioning themselves to get dibs on one of the three computers in our Long Island house the way they would otherwise line up to jump in the shower." In the UK and South Korea, there are probably already unwritten rules of etiquette about texting at social and family gatherings, and those sensibilities will undoubtedly develop the world over, as we adjust our human interaction to increasingly ubiquitous digital connectivity.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Euro online youth self-reliant

A survey of 27 EU member countries plus Iceland and Norway found that "European children are well aware of the potential risks of Internet and mobile phone use but are confidently embracing digital technologies, believing they are capable of handling any problem that might arise without the help of a parent," according to an article in the portal Tiscali.Europe reports. That's good and bad news, of course, indicating that on the one hand they may be less susceptible to victimization and smarter than we think but on the other hand a little over-confident. Especially amid the rise of cyberbullying on phones and the Web, this may indicate an unhealthy disinclination to tell parents and other trusted adults about bullying incidents (out of fears that Internet privileges would be taken away, as other research shows). The study also found that "ways in which the internet was used proved similar across the continent as well as age groups. Schoolwork, communicating with friends and family via instant messaging and chat, downloading music, videos, and games scored highest, the latter more popular with boys in the 12-14 category, while chatting and emailing came out top for the older girls. Hours spent online per week also increased with age."

Labels: ,

'eBullies': Coping with cyberbullying

This is the kind of incident that adds to school absentee rates these days: In Texas, a student "posted a page that he attributed to a classmate, complete with the girl's picture and numerous photos of her alleged sex partners. Other students … were invited to view the page," the Detroit News reports. Within two days 100 students had posted comments on the page. "The boy eventually was suspended for a few days … and the victim transferred schools because she was so distraught." The victim was hesitant to tell her parents, worried she'd lose her online privileges (a fairly common reaction, research shows). The Cleveland Plain Dealer has some at-at-glance statistics on bullying, though the first one - 3 in 4 students say they've been cyberbullied - is high (the Pew Internet & American Life's latest study on this puts it at close to one-third).

Meanwhile, parents, a book by two social workers cited by the Detroit News points to "the importance of parents getting kids to feel comfortable talking about their Internet time," offering us this advice: "Start with nonforced, nonjudgmental questions about their online experiences, ideally in a casual setting, they say, such as when you're shopping for back-to-school clothes or walking the dog together. Even if the child seems bored or annoyed, he or she actually may want to talk about it. Then listen." No doubt unwritten codes of conduct are naturally developing in peer groups, in school social scenes, and all over the social Web. For students, here's a blogger on Facebook etiquette who's encouraging a discussion on her page. For educators, there's a new set of courses at from Canadian educator Bill Belsey, creator of the award-winning and "the world's first Web site about cyberbullying," In the US, Nancy Willard's book Cyberbullying and Cyberthreats has a section on legal considerations for schools.

Labels: , ,

Monday, August 27, 2007

Teen's hack unlocks iPhone

It took him 500 hours, but 17-year-old George Hotz figured out how to unlock his iPhone from the AT&T networking and use it on T-Mobile. "He posted his 10-step hack on his blog Thursday, along with a video illustrating it on YouTube; by early Friday afternoon, his video had been viewed by some 130,000 people," TechNewsWorld reports. Fortunately for Apple and AT&T most people won't "try this at home." It takes a good two hours and involves soldering and software programming. The Register reports that George got a new Nissan and three more iPhones in exchange for the unlocked iPhone, but the Associated Press reports that anyone hoping to make money from unlocking iPhones could face legal trouble. "Unlocking the phone for one's own use, for instance to place calls with a different carrier, appears to be legal. But if it's done for financial gain, the legality is less certain."

Labels: ,

For aspiring game developers

If a gamer at your house has ambitions to work in the videogame industry, the Detroit Free Press talked to one who's in it. Jeremy Lee, 27, at The Collective in Newport Beach, Calif., told the Free Press that he "knew he wanted to get into videogames as a career when he was a student at the University of Michigan." His advice to aspiring game producers: "Be persistent." And it sounds like you also really need to love gaming. "He got to his current job [directing the production of new games including "Silent Hill 5"] by taking every position associated with games he could." It's a couple of years old, but still relevant - a Fox News piece on schools offering videogame degrees.