Children clearly face dangers online. Not only can they bump into people that could do them harm, they may see material which disturbs them. Almost every parent wants to ensure their children are safe when they are online. But just how do mums and dads go about protecting their children?
Well, some will read books on the subject – like Protecting Children on the Internet, which I wrote several years ago…! Others will search online for advice. However, new research from Brigham Young University shows that the number one way people obtain information about online child safety is asking friends and family. The second most popular way of finding out how to protect children online is to attend presentations – indeed there is one being made next week at my son’s school from Microsoft. Interestingly, the least popular way of discovering how to protect children from the dangers of the web is the Internet itself.
However, this should not come as a surprise. We have always asked other people for help, advice and support as our FIRST resort. The Internet is an information source when the people we know simply do not know, or there is no-one in our circle of contacts who can actually help. Our natural tendency is to ask other people first, or seek information in the “real world” before we go online.
The fact that so many of us live our lives online makes it difficult to believe this. However, as this research on child safety points out the number one way of seeking information on a topic is to ask other people or to find out in the “real world”. For businesses that means we need to ensure that we are present in the “real world” – that we continue to make presentations, that we have people who know about our business and can talk to other people about it.
If business owners think they have to concentrate all their efforts into the online world then they are missing out on the impact of the person-to-person communication that is so effective. Take a tip from this child safety study – get people talking about your online business in the “real world” because that is the place most of your customers will turn to first.