President-Elect Obama has stated that he would create a Chief Technology Officer position when he takes over the presidency. Internet safety groups have taken notice and are now pushing for an additional office to be created specifically to protect children's safety while online. The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) just sent in a report last week asking President-Elect Obama to also create a National Safety Officer to serve under the CTO. Washington Post writer Kim Hart recently wrote an interesting article regarding this topic. Here's what I gathered to be the most valuable points:
Parental controls and internet safety have become increasingly more relevant in the media these last couple of months due to the conviction of the Missouri woman who was found to have caused the suicide of a 13-year old girl by committing computer fraud on MySpace. The increased usage of social networking sites, instant messaging and cellphones is definitely proving to be a growing challenge. While agencies and individual companies are trying to do their part individually, a coordinated approach may help institutions like FOSI to be more effective. Stephen Balkman, Chief Executive of FOSI, states that "We need to react more swiftly to the challenges new technology brings. We see a lot of activity in the industry and some agencies, but I don't see overall coordination we can work off of."
While I think that this is positive news, let's not forget that the most valuable internet safety solution we have at our disposal is entirely controllable by ourselves. Software tools and government help are nice, but we need to educate today's youth about the dangers of the internet; remind them to stay safe online by not giving away personal information. Make them feel comfortable enough to report if somebody is bullying them online. If we educate them properly, they will be more prepared to deal with dangerous situations that may arise. Having government help is great, but the onus lies on us to pass along our knowledge to the more youthful population.