Sunday, March 22, 2009

Let Me Know!

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This month I will present a one hour program to Girl Scout parents and volunteers on the topic of Internet safety. You might think one hour is plenty of time, but it’s not.

Fortunately, a representative of Microsoft contacted me to check out a new collaborative effort between Girl Scouts of the USA and Microsoft that has nothing to do with selling cookies.

What sold me from the get go was that Parry Aftab of had been consulted. In my opinion, she’s one of the best resources on the net for parents and children. She’s also got the right idea about the need to balance safety concerns with learning and exposure to new technologies.

The project LMK (text slang for “Let Me Know”) is an online safety website with two different sites: one for teenagers ( and one for parents (

You do not have to be affiliated with Girl Scouts to join or use the site. Parents, if you sign up there is an ezine (electronic newsletter) that will be delivered directly to your email inbox. I did! According to their literature, the ezine will be sent monthly and will cover the Internet safety topic investigated that month by the editors, who just happen to be teenage girls.

After signing up for the ezine, I received an email telling me what the next topic will be. “You will learn why Social Networking is a way of life amongst teens these days. You will learn what it is, how you do it, why it’s done and much, much more!” I am assuming the “much, much more” will include helping parents address safety issues.

When I talk to parents about Internet safety, I find that many are disturbed about how little they know or understand about what their children do online. This is an important concern because quite frankly, it’s very likely that your child does know more than you.

The LMK’s mission written by teenagers even tells us this: “Being online, texting, and IMing are a part of your life. You probably understand how the internet works better than your parents do.” Including a site for parents makes this venture close to ideal because the information shared will be simply stated and easy to understand while coming from teens who are using the Internet safely.

Whether you feel you need LMK or similar services, the facts remain the same. Unless a parent is educating themselves and monitoring activities, a child is being allowed free reign on an unsupervised playground. There are real threats like cyberbullying and predators.

The National Council of Juvenile Court Judges reports that approximately one in six children (US) grades six through 10 are victims of online bullying annually. A new Web portal, Child Online Protection Service (COPS), recently reported 90,000 registered sexual offenders have accounts. The number is estimated to be much higher because this only counts offenders who use their real names. If you want to find out more about COPS, visit their site ( One of their services is to help parents determine if their children have been improperly contacted while using the Web.

Personally, I appreciate the work of so many advocates and organizations whose missions are to educate my child and me. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with constantly evolving new technologies without resources like Parry Aftab’s and LMK.

And now, thanks to the marriage between the Girl Scouts and Microsoft, I have help in the form of a steady supply of internet safety resources I can provide while delivering a short, brief overview of my topic.

Allyn Evans
info at

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