Most parents these days face a brand-new type of parenting struggle in regards to how to control their child's time online. The Internet can be a useful, entertaining, educational resource, but has also become an extension of many of our social lives for adults and children alike, and that comes with its own set of problems. (Any parent who has struggled to control their tween or teen's computer usage may have had a sympathetic wince for Tommy Jordan, the dad who became famous for shooting his daughter's laptop over something she'd posted on her Facebook page.)
Internet companies, however, have an incentive to make sure kids can use the web in a safe, healthy way-that doesn't drive their parents to pick-up a firearm. To this end Google, Facebook, Verizon, yours truly at Yahoo! and others have gotten together to support a new initiative, "A Platform for Good," that seeks to educate teens, parents, and teachers about safe, productive ways for kids to use the web.
"This isn't a list of do's and don'ts for teens, but more focused on improvement," said Nancy Gifford, Special Projects Coordinator for the project. Gifford worked as a federal prosecutor in Connecticut, specializing in crimes against children, which has allowed her to now work on these issues before problems arise.
Through "Teach Parent Tech," the interactive tab for parents, teens can assign videos to parents on Internet skills such as text abbreviations, or they can access how-tos on Facebook privacy, which teens and parents can explore together.
The site officially launches on September 12 but until then, users can check out some recommendations for safe, summer fun. Recommendations include links to online museums, resources for stargazing or activities like sending a virtual glass of lemonade to help raise money for cancer.