The 4Ps: Predators, Porn, Privacy and Piracy
Here’s one more simple way to think about risks online. Just as the issues in Internet safety are grouped into the 3Cs, parents’ greatest concerns fall into four general areas – privacy, predators, pornography and piracy.
You care about your child’s privacy. You worry about predators online (sexual predators and cyberbullies). You want to keep the pornographers away from your children and your children away from pornography. And finally, you don’t want your children developing unethical habits or being charged with copyright infringement for music, movies, software and games they download and steal online. We call these the 4Ps. They cover safe, secure and responsible use of all interactive technologies. (Our 4Ps video is available for viewing at WiredSafety.org, without charge.)
Predators pose the biggest danger, with some young teens being killed in recent years by someone they first met online. (And at least one child was murdered by another for being a cyberbully and several have committed suicide around the world after being cyberbullied.) But privacy is a close second. And we receive more complaints about pop-ups and pornography advertising abuses that confront our children whenever they get online (and sometimes, in the case of pop-ups, even when they aren’t but have an ever-on broadband connection) than all other complaints combined.
Many children are concerned about these things too. (Although getting them to stop illegally downloading music is a challenge!)
With increasing numbers of teens admitting they are meeting Internet strangers in real life (between 12% and 24 of young teens, depending on the study), they will increasingly encounter sexual predators.
This isn’t designed to scare you, or your children or teens. It is designed to make them more careful and help them understand how the bad guys trick even the smartest children into giving away important and personal information. It helps them understand why some kids agree to meet strangers offline. It also helps them understand how to reduce the risks of meeting someone offline by getting their parents or other trustworthy adults involved.
Privacy has several faces. One is closely related to the stranger-danger message. Teaching children not to share personal information with people they meet online is one of the most important messages we convey.
And the kids will understand the importance of privacy itself and keeping something secret, even from their best friends. These include credit card information, passwords and personal information.
Pornography and Pop-Ups:
One of the biggest problems parents complain about online is graphic pornographic images their children encounter in their e-mail boxes, IMs (instant messaging) and online. The pornographers in an effort to increase their advertising revenue and online profile, have used popular kid website names with common misspellings and other similar tricks to lure our kids to their sites accidentally. By understanding the tricks used by pornographers to push their content to everyone online, children and teens can avoid most pornography. And learning where and how to report misleading domain names and typosquatting will make a big difference too.
Now, by using spyware and adware, the pornographers and other unscrupulous marketers are reaching out to our computers to personally deliver the messages using pop-ups with graphic sexual images even when our children aren’t surfing. By being made aware of spyware and adware installation schemes, and the pop-ups they deliver, children can use pop-up blocker programs and toolbars to prevent being exposed to countless and disgusting pop-ups.
Piracy may bring to mind Yo!Ho!Ho! and bottles of rum, but real life music, motion picture, computer games and software piracy isn’t as glamorous. While our children may not find themselves with a parrot perched on their shoulder, they may from themselves facing a law suit or criminal prosecution and paying large fines. (Sadly, parents often have to pay those fines.)
With the new subscription and other low cost music download options, it no longer pays to steal music. And with the high risks of downloading stolen motion pictures, software and games, including ID theft, someone accessing your private files, spyware, viruses, and pornography posing as a media file, it’s worth the wait for the movie to come out on DVD, or to save the money to buy a genuine copy of the software or games.
We need to teach our children to respect the rights of others online and offline. And that includes teaching them to respect the intellectual property rights of the music, gaming, software and motion picture industries. WiredSafety’s newest educational programs include Peers2Peers.org, and its Piracy Doesn’t Pay awareness campaign designed by preteens and teens to teach young people to use the technology responsibly.