Online resource for parents

| 21/10/2008

(CNS): The dangers lurking on the Internet and how to guide children through them is one issue that parents today often feel at a loss to deal with. However, a new resource is on the way with the development of the website, which will provide forums, links, video and step-by-step installation instructions for relevant software.

“The Internet is the Wild Wild West,” said to Dr Jonetta Delaine Mosley-Matchett, who is behind the website. “Parents have no place to go to share tips with each other get information. My heart goes out to them.”

“OurChildren” is not intended to give all the answers, she said, but will be as useful and interactive as possible and she is appealing for people, particularly those who have relevant expertise, to be part of the development. “This is very much in the embryonic stage, said Mosley-Matchett. “One thing I would like to do is to get older teens and people in their young twenty’s involved. Kids speak in a different language, so they could help younger kids.”

A published author, Mosley-Matchett has an MBA and a PhD in Business Administration, both from the University of Texas at Arlington, where she has also lectured. She also has a Juris Doctor, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Technology. She wrote her dissertation on Internet-based masked marketing, which gave her the opportunity to study the impact of issues surrounding the web.

She said that among the online dangers are the opportunities for cheating in exams,pornography and theft (pirating) of music. Online predators can pretend to be another child, making them believe that they are the only ones who understand them. Frequently the person they are “chatting” to is someone they know – online abuse is not always by stranger, said Mosely-Matchett. The web has also given rise to cyber bullying, a direct attack on a young person’s self esteem and social status, which are very important at that stage in life and can be devastating to the point of suicide, particularly in girls but boys are vulnerable too.

“I really want parents to understand and to teach their children about the dangers of the Internet, just as they would teach them that crossing the road can be dangerous. You can’t teach this if you’re ignorant,” she said. “I want this to be a good repository – I was shocked at how little resources are available. There is software for parental control but not much in the way of really good information.” As well as the online resource, Mosley-Matchett is hoping to organise meetings once a month so parents can talk to each other face to face.

“The website will be Cayman specific,” she said, noting that the recent video of young people dancing in George Town, which appeared on YouTube, brought it home to people here

Kids are getting on line younger and younger, she said, so the site will be for parents of children of all ages. Screen names can give out a lot of information, she said and noted a particular dangers for teens who express themselves through the Internet, often egged on by friends. “They can make themselves targets – even without the social networking sites – by innocent postings on line. But they don’t realise that even when it is taken down from a site, it never goes away.”

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