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Friday, February 25, 2011

Togetherville: What Parents Need to Know

California-based Togetherville launched last year as a free online neighborhood where children ages six to 10 years of age can virtually mingle with friends and "approved" grownups.  "There are no strangers, no avatars and no anonymous usernames in a Togetherville neighborhood," the service explained at its website.  "Only a parent can create a child's account, and parents are encouraged to use a child's real name and photo to build and foster real-world relationships."

[Source: commonsensemedia.org by Jacqueline Rupp]

Parents need to know that this site is designed to be an introduction to social networking -- Facebook with training wheels, if you will. Positive features include super-safe posts that use scripted phrases, and the ability to socialize with known friends -- without stranger-danger and inappropriate posts. Parents are kept on top of all interactions and have control over the friend selection process. But because Togetherville trains kids in the ways of social networking, you'll have to think long and hard about what age you want your kids to start. Parents also need to be aware that an adult Facebook account is required for the creation of children's accounts on this site.

Families Can Talk About...

Talk to your kids about the media in their life. These tips that can help:
•Families can talk about the rules of social networking. Whether sites have safety nets or not, what are some ground rules for safe socializing online? What are some pieces of information that are strictly off limits.
•Families can talk about the drawbacks to social networking. Is it something elementary-school aged children should be focused on, or are there better ways to socializing, like playing together outside? What happens to our communication skills if we spend too much time in front of a screen? Do you think it is as fun to chat with someone online as it is to do so in person?
•Families can talk about setting time limits on digital entertainment. How much is too much time for an eight-year old to spend online? What other forms of communication and entertainment are you giving up if you focus too much on online social interactions?

Whats your opinion on Togetherville?  Is 6 years old too young for social networking, even in a seemingly "protected" virtual environment?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Do Something: National Missing Children's Day

Every year our nation recognizes May 25th as National Missing Children's Day.  On this day, child advocates, law enforcement, community members, and children themselves are recognized for their efforts to help keep children safer every day of the year.  In addition to the awards ceremony, this day is an annual reminder to the parents, guardians, and the nation to renew efforts to reunite missing children with their families and make child protection a national priority.

While this is a very commendable, all we ever really hear about is the ceremony.  Again, the ceremony is a great and positive way to celebrate the many successes in keeping our nation's children safe.  But where is the call for action for communities across the nation?  What is that action?  We can't help but feel that National Missing Children's day should be more than just a ceremony (or a poster contest).  After all, ceremonies don't keep our kids safe.  What keeps our children safe is education and awareness.  It doesn't matter if it is abduction safety or cooking safety, education and awareness are always the foundation for safety.  

Here's what we're getting at, Child Quest would like to ask you to Do Something...  This May 25th, National Missing Children's Day, take the opportunity to talk with your children and family about abduction safety.  It doesn't have to be "intense and scary".  You could do something as simple as getting a Child I.D. Kit for your child on that day, or you could take it a step further and discuss some family guidelines on who are "trusted adults" in your family and/or neighborhood.  You could even play the "What if..." game while out doing family errands.  Talk to your children and see what they know and then gently guide them to success. 

The point is to do something constructive and take advantage of this nationally recognized day to invest in your families safety.  Feel free to visit our website for safety tips and our multi-award winning abduction safety video Milk cartons: The Way Back Home. 

P.S. - We are more than happy provide child safety presentations for schools and community groups in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Yahoo! Safely

Looks like Yahoo! has stepped up again to help protect children online by launching a child online protection site... If you don't remember they provided us with Yahoo! Kids, originally known as Yahooligans!, which was founded in March 1996 by Yahoo! to provide children with a venue to find age-appropriate online content for children between the ages of 6 and 12. The site can be used for both educational and entertainment purposes.

[Source: safely.yahoo.com]

This year, during global Safer Internet Day on Feb. 8, 2011, the industry [came] together to help educate families and promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile phones among children and youth.

Online safety is a priority for Yahoo! and [they celebrated] global Safer Internet Day by introducing Yahoo! Safely in 26 countries across 14 languages providing parents, educators and youth with information and advice about making smart choices online. As one of the only global safety resources, Yahoo! Safely offers locally relevant advice on important topics such as managing digital reputations, avoiding cyber-bullying, and learning how to minimize risks on mobile devices.

Check it out and let us know what you think...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Six myths about keeping kids safe online

While many of the rules for online safety have not changed in our opinion, there are some that need a little "updating" to reflect the current reality of online safety for children in 2011.  Child Quest feels this article represents a creditable list of safety "updates" to consider for your children's online activity.

[Source: Yahoo.com]

Keeping kids safe online may not seem easy, especially because today’s parents didn’t grow up immersed in the technology that our kids are exposed to early on. But regularly talking to your kids about what they’re doing on the Web, how they play online games, and when they use mobile phones can go a long way towards teaching them how to act responsibly and safely.

Try not to get caught up in all the hype that can surround the online world and focus instead on what really matters. Below are the facts behind common myths from child safety expert Dr. Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, adapted from CyberSafe: Protecting and Empowering Digital Kids in the World of Texting, Gaming and Social Media.

To read the full article, click here.
For Internet Safety Tips, please visit our website at http://www.childquest.org/

Friday, February 4, 2011

2011 Missing Children's Day Poster Contest - Deadline Extended!

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25 as National Missing Children's Day. Each year the Department of Justice (DOJ) commemorates Missing Children's Day with a ceremony honoring the heroic and exemplary efforts of agencies, organizations, and individuals to protect children.

In 2000, Attorney General Eric Holder, then serving as Deputy Attorney General, presented the first annual National Missing Children's Day Poster Contest award at DOJ's Missing Children's Day observance.

Since then, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) sponsors a national poster contest and announces the winner at the annual National Missing Children’s Day Ceremony in Washington, DC. The purpose of the contest is to demonstrate America’s united effort to bring missing children home safely, while highlighting the importance of proactive education programs. The poster contest and the educational activities that accompany it are designed to assist with this mission by keeping the issue at the forefront of people’s awareness.

More importantly, the poster contest provides an opportunity for schools, law enforcement, and other community organizations to engage children and their parents in informative discussions about the problem of missing children and how to prevent it.  Student involvement in the poster contest promotes peer education, while compelling students to explore the significance of the theme “Bring our Missing Children Home.”

The national winner will travel to Washington, DC to receive an award and participate in the 2011 Missing Children’s Day ceremony.
  • The theme for the poster contest is "Bring our Missing Children Home."
  • Only fifth grade students are eligible to participate in the contest.

2005 National Winner