Internet Safety in 2010 – A Report from CES

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES), where companies, writers and consumers gather to see the latest technologies and discuss upcoming trends has just ended, and 2010 is promising to be an exciting year for Internet safety.

The conference gave tantalizing signs that companies, educators and non-profit groups are finally moving beyond the rudimentary ‘block and filter’ technologies and mentality of the past to give parents and youth more meaningful safety options.

New interfaces, like smart tiles and multi-touch screens, and new formats for existing technologies showed how products of the future will be better adapted to consumers of all ages, how safety is integral to design, and how services will transition between technologies to give integrated multi-platform experiences.

New services have been created with safety and youth in mind. These services include age appropriate – and fun – social networking sites, search environments, email clients, and gaming sites. While there have been a number of services for the youngest users, this year the dearth of options for tweeners has been remedied – now the challenge will be getting the word out.

Innovation in family safety tools finally shows real progress with innovative companies providing more nuanced and intelligent solutions, and where additional areas of concern – like reputations – are being addressed.

In addition, the tenor of the dialog about online safety has changed. Fear mongering has largely been displaced by experience, and the discussion has shifted to addressing real issues. Forward-looking schools are adopting a variety of technological enhancements and training materials to teach and interact with students.

Breakout by Kids@Play thoughtfully reflected these shifts with panels discussing the new interfaces, how kids interact in virtual worlds and online play, the role of the FCC in creating a safer Internet, bringing diversity into experiences, and of course the state of Internet safety. As a panelist in the online safety discussion, it was refreshing to hear the level of thought and innovation being applied to creating a safer online environment – not just for kids, but for consumers of all ages.

As the Kids@Play dynamo Robin Raskin put it, “Today’s kids have grown up in a digital world. Babies cut their first teeth on remote controls. Toddlers bang on keyboards before they can walk. By the time they reach high school, these same kids will likely dabble in video production, explore virtual worlds and own a drawer-full of prized personal consumer electronics. From storybooks to Facebook, it’s the way they learn, communicate, and entertain themselves.”

Over the course of the next few months, I will highlight and review some of the great services available for kids, tweens and teens to help you find products and services that better match your needs.



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