Busy professionals and those who put much into securing their business technology may overlook one import area of safety: their children.
The Internet has shown many potential dangers to children. Accounts of child predators, online drug sales, and a large variety of sexual content are very real problems on the Internet. Many parents are cautious and restrict what their children do with computers, but there are many who do not. And those who do not may not be even aware of the potential risks.
In early November the Family Online Safety Institute held its annual conference in Washington, DC. Its topic: “Internet Freedom, Safety & Citizenship: A Call to Action”. The conference focused primarily on what children are doing with communication technology.
This year’s conference had almost 500 attendees, including speakers from some very notable companies, such as Microsoft and Yahoo. Aside from those who attended physically, there were over 500,000 people who were reading about the event via Twitter as it was happening, according to Marian Merritt of Symantec’s blog.
As the event was happening, 1485 people posted a single Twitter hashtag, #fosi2010. (A twitter hashtag is used as a term users can easily search for or post in Twitter). From those 1485 “tweets” on Twitter, a tool was used to see how many people read those tweets. The end count was 575,394 people. (One of the attendees, Denise Terry of SafetyWeb.com used a tool called “TweetReach” to find this number.)
This brings up some serious questions. If over half million people can be drawn in by one ‘hashtag’ in only a few days, then how many people are actually reading our children’s information? How many people are actually in contact with our children? And what do we know about these people? It is very possible that if one child posts the right topic, they too can be connected to over half million people in one or two days.
Our children are now more connected than we may think. With the rise of social media and increasing Internet speeds, people are now very connected throughout the world. Digital conversations now happen in real-time, and are no longer confined to computers in the home. Wi-Fi hotspots and smart phones have brought the technology to everywhere we go.