Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed


“This is impossible,” Emily, the mother of three boys, exclaimed. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to give my kids more technology or less.” Emily felt paralyzed because she was caught between digital-age parenting advice and what her heart told her was right.

Online articles claimed that children need freedom with gadgets, but she knew a number of teens who spent their lives on their phones, spurned their families, and suffered from emotional problems. Emily was also dubious of promises that devices are the key to kids’ success, as she knew more than a few game-obsessed 20-somethings who still lived with their parents and showed no signs of being productive.

The Surprising Science of Raising Happy, Healthy Kids

In meeting with parents like Emily, I acknowledge the confusion about what is good parenting in the digital age. For guidance, I suggest looking to the science of raising healthy children. What it’s revealing is extraordinary: that even amid the trappings of our tech-obsessed culture, children’sconnections to family and school are still the most important factors in their lives. In other words, it’s time we get back to the basics.

There are other elements of raising healthy children, including engaging kids in creative and outdoor play, and showing them what it means to be a good friend. We also need to teach kids self-control and how to use technology productively. Yet, children are better able to acquire these abilities if they have strong connections with family and school. Children learn the value of nature when parents expose them to the outdoors. And kids acquire self-control, or grit, by persevering through challenging school assignments.

The Two Pillars of Childhood

Family is the most important element of children’s lives — even in this world of bits and bytes — because we are human first. We can’t ignore the science of attachment that shows our kids need lots of quality time with us. Such experiences shape children’s brains, and they foster our kids’ happiness and self-esteem, while diminishing the chances that they will develop behavior or drug problems.

Second in importance only to family is children’s involvement with school. Nevertheless, some question the value of traditional schooling, claiming that in the digital age kids learn best through exposure to the latest gadgets. But, according to the Pew Research Center, the value of a college education is actually increasing in recent decades, providing youth higher earning potential and significantly lowering their risks of unemployment or poverty. And how do colleges gauge admission? Not through high scores on video games or the number of social media friends, but instead by measuring kids’ understanding of the learning fundamentals taught in school, including the ability to read, write, and do math well.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Back To Basics: Raising Children In The Digital Age, by Richard Freed

Six things every parent should know about Pokémon Go, by Christian Gallen


For the first time in history you may hear your kids complain that it’s raining so they can’t go outside and play video games. This is the parents’ guide to the newest social phenomenon that has taken over the world.

1. What is Pokémon Go?

You have probably come across Pokémon before. It’s Japanese for ‘pocket monsters’. You may even be familiar with Pikachu. Pokémon has been around for ages and spans video games, TV shows, a trading card game and now has become super popular because of the smart phone app, Pokémon Go. Chances are your kids are playing it!

2. How does it work?

Pokemon-Go-001-292x300The basic idea of the game is that you travel around the real world and find Pokémon using your device. There are 250 different types of Pokémon out there. If your kid comes home excited about catching Bulbasaur there’s nothing to worry about. It’s not a drug or a disease. It’s a grass type Pokémon with razor leaf attack. You collect them and battle against other users. Your kid doesn’t need hand-eye coordination to catch Pokémon – just a fully-charged smartphone and access to the internet.

This week I saw a group of teenagers running laps around a park with their phones in front of their faces. They were outdoors with their friends, they were exercising and they were playing a video game all at the same time. Weird.

(To read more of this article, please follow the link below…)

Facebook, Twitter and Google unite to Stop Spread of Child Abuse Images, By Jeff Parsons


Three of technology’s biggest names have joined forces with a UK charity to try and block paedophiles spreading images online.

Google, Facebook and Twitter have united alongside a UK charity, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) to try and stop the spread of child abuse images online.

The IWF is responsible for tracking indecent images of children online and allocating each one with a specific (“Hash”) code – allowing them to identify it.

It then compiles the codes into a so-called “Hash List” that keeps tabs on the horrific images.

Now the organisation has shared its Hash list with the biggest technology companies on the web.

It means that Facebook, Twitter and Google will be able to recognise these pictures and block them from being uploaded onto their services.

“Our Hash List could be a game-changer and really steps up the fight against child sexual abuse images online,” said Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF.

While explicit images can still be shared on the so-called “darknet”, preventing them from appearing on the likes of Google and Facebook is a step in the right direction.

(To read more, follow the link below…)

Child Safety: Stop Posting Naked Photos of Your Kid, by Jarrett Arthur

Bathing Baby

A follow up to our previous post… the article Jarrett originally posted.

Child Safety: Stop Posting Naked Photos of Your Kid.


Editor’s Note, by Kirsteen McLay-Knopp

After reading the article at the link above, I decided to do some online searching of my own.  After typing “naked kids’ photos” into Google and clicking on “images”, hundreds of pictures of naked children immediately appeared.  Most were having fun and doing normal activities like taking baths but, as Jarrett rightly points out in her article, did their Mums and Dads really intend that ANYONE searching online like I did could view them?  How often have such photos been shared in less than savory circles?

Children in swim wear featured highly too, as did scantly-clad children.  I’ve never posted pictures of our kids in their togs (swimming gear) on Facebook or anywhere else, I never quite felt right about doing that… I guess I thought that was “family stuff” you might show the grandparents or someone.  Some of the pictures I saw posted were VERY innocent, but it certainly makes you wonder why they come up under the search title “naked kids”… do some people out there get off on seeing scantily clad kids or kids in swimming gear?

I was also concerned to see that there were a number of nude photographs of children in developing countries.  While I have no problem with their nudity in the context of their respective cultures (and don’t believe that children should be taught to be ashamed of their bodies) I did have to wonder who took these photos and why, as well as why there are so many of them on the internet… as well as, of course, who continues to search them.  Considering that many children are sexually exploited in our world’s poorest areas, this is a concern too.


Proof Positive: Why You Should Keep Naked Baby Pics Private! Jaw dropping realization about online searches and the demand for explicit child photos, by Jarrett Arthur


Dear Parent/ Carer,

Please bear with me as I walk you through my own personal experience in discovering the huge and sick online demand for images of child exploitation.

In 2014, I wrote a blog article entitled, “Child Safety: Stop Posting Naked Photos of Your Kids“ (… posted on as “3 Reasons to Keep Naked Baby Pictures Private“). It got sort of decent engagement, few shares, and fewer comments. In general it was pretty much ignored and the overall feedback I received was underwhelming to the point of being disappointing.

…my heart sank immediately, my vision blurred, my ears started ringing, and I got about as close as one can get to vomiting without having to run to the toilet.

“Why isn’t anybody noticing this important article about keeping kids safe?” I’ve been thinking to myself over the course of the past year.

That is until I realized recently that there were many, many people noticing this article.

And upon this discovery my heart sank immediately, my vision blurred, my ears started ringing, and I got about as close as one can get to vomiting without having to run to the toilet. It was proof positive of why you should keep naked baby pics private!

How do search engines work?

Let me start off by explaining what a search engine query is, in case you don’t know. Each time you visit Google, or Bing, or Yahoo, and type a series of words into the search engine browser, you create a search engine query. Different than keywords, queries are the exact sequence of words (misspellings and all) that you type into that white box. Some recent examples of my personal queries: “Female owned businesses in Austin Texas,” “Innovative shoulder mobility exercises,” “How late is the Valencia post office open until.”

The search engine then tries to decide what information you’re looking for and sends you a list of websites it thinks are the best fits for your search engine query. How does it determine which pages are best? It’s complicated, but one of the ways is by matching the titles of pages (articles, blogs, website home pages, etc.), and content of pages, to the words in the query. So if someone queries, “Jarrett Arthur self-defense,” Google, or whatever they’re using, will send them a link to my website because it’s the best match.

I was shocked to learn…

As a website owner and Google analytics customer, I have access to a report on the top search engine queries created by other people that are determined to be a match with my site, or pages on my site. Below is a screenshot of an actual report I just pulled from my website data. It shows 34 commonly used search engine queries that people have entered into their browsers that their search engines have determined my website is the best match for…

stop posting naked photos of kids

So, in case you’re lost and not understanding what’s happening here, let me spell it out. Of all the ways that search engine users on the Internet find my website through queries, the above 34 commonly used phrases from around the world are among the most prevalent. Because of the words in the title of my blog post on NOT posting naked photos of kids, which contains words associated with these queries above, Google and other search engines send these query creators to my blog post. Each entry does not represent one single query… each entry represents multiple queries, of which these are the most frequent.

To read more, follow the link below…

More Kiwi kids video chatting with strangers on risky website: what is Omegle? By Jessy Edwards

Omegle FY

A website with the tagline “Talk to strangers!” is putting increasing numbers of Kiwi children at risk, cyber safety professionals say.

Stumble across website Omegle and you’re just two clicks away from being in a video chat with a stranger.

A 14-year-old Wellington girl who has used the site said it contained “lots of nudity”.

“There’s quite a lot of teenagers on there and then occasionally you get creepy old men going on. If you’re on chat, people send quite creepy things, like wanting to sex and stuff.”

Cybersafety consultant John Parsons said he was first alerted to the site in 2013 and immediately warned that the risk would increase over the coming years.

“There’s no question it’s got worse,” he said on Wednesday. “We’re seeing more and more people getting introduced to it and who have gone on to these anonymous platforms where the most horrendous things have been said to them and they’ve seen things that are hard to forget.”

He said he had seen victims of the site as young as 8.

In 2014, an 18-year-old faced sexual grooming charges after travelling from Bay of Plenty to pick up a 12-year-old at her Wairarapa home, six months after they first met on Omegle. The youth admitted indecently assaulting the girl.

NetSafe executive director Martin Cocker said: “All the system does is connect you randomly to another user, so those people could be anybody from anywhere with any intention, which is the unsafe bit of it.

“If criminals are able to establish a relationship that allows them to convince a young person to do something over the webcam, there is nothing stopping them from recording it and exploiting it.”

Another 14-year-old said she went on the site after hearing about it from school friend, and it could be “scary”.

“You don’t have to have a username and you click a button which just takes you to video chatrooms around the world.

“You usually come across people who are a bit weird so you exit out of them until you find someone that you want to talk to. It’s mainly just old men who probably just go on there for a bit of a sexual good time.”

Cocker’s advice to parents was to teach their children to use the internet ethically and safely.

“There are basic conversations that adults should have with their children about people misrepresenting themselves, and that some people would want to do you harm, and you and the child should work together to make sure this doesn’t happen.”

Omegle does not pretend to be suitable for children. A warning on the site says: “Predators have been known to use Omegle, so please be careful.  Do not use Omegle if you are under 13. If you are under 18, use it only with a parent/guardian’s permission.”

Originally published in the Dominion Post.  Many thanks to Jessy Edwards who gave permission for “The Forever Years” to re-publish this article in full.  🙂