Keeping your kids safe in the digital world

Keeping your kids safe in the digital world

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by Pat Dooris

Bio | Email | Follow: @PatDoorisKGW

kgw.com

Posted on November 6, 2012 at 6:49 AM

PORTLAND - Fifteen-year-old Kellen Ataras and his 13-year-old brother Peter, are like many teens, they love to play video games.

And they know more about the gaming and online world than their mom.

“Part of the benefit of the Internet is news travels quickly and easily, so it’s pretty easy to keep up with the latest anything," said Kellen.

Their mom, Celina, is a full-time student. She struggles to keep up with the technology.

“It's very hard. My sons are very tuned in to the Internet, to game systems and to the TV,” she said.

Their dad Bil, works with computer software. Even he struggles to keep up.

“It’s a bit of a challenge. And I mean, I am a software guy. I work on computers all the time,” he said.

Like many of us, they're interested in how they can keep their kids safe in the wired world.

Enter Jed Gilchrist and Joan Marquis. Both work for Portland Public Schools and teach parents how to navigate the cyber world their kids live in.

“There are capabilities to monitor and block not just the web traffic, but the instant message traffic as well,” he tells the parents.

Gilchrist says the family is doing well using a service called Net Nanny. It blocks and monitors sites at a cost of $40 a year for one computer or $60 a year for three.

He also suggests family.norton.com, which appears to do much of the same work for free.

Gilchrist says parents can also talk to their cell provider to control who their child trades text messages with and how to put a curfew on their phone.

And while we're talking about phones, remember they're basically mobile computers.

The FBI says predators often try to find kids through their phones. 

“The thing about cell phones that have Internet capability, kids can take that anywhere. Where as typically the gaming system is usually in a public place in a living room or something like that," said agent Chuck Dodsworth.

Which brings us back to the Ataras brothers. Joan Marquis encourages Bill and Celina to keep up their parenting, teaching the boys what is right and wrong in the digital age.

“You're the tech guru,” she said pointing to Bill. “You don’t know as much,” she said pointing to Celina.

“But you're both the parents and all of your information is vital. They're pretty good at tech stuff, but they're really bad at parenting," she said, nodding toward the boys.

The family will continue to monitor and block sites their sons try to visit, but they don’t expect the boys to like it and they are correct.

They don’t like it at all.

“They'll try to block one web site but it ends up blocking like most of the web sites so you can’t really do anything,” complained Peter.

Just remember, parenting is about preparing your kids for the future. Don’t expect to win a popularity contest on this one.

“I know how to handle myself on the Internet and they, I don’t know, I guess they don’t feel the same way. However they feel, it’s annoying to me," said Kellen.

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