One common concern shared by parents with Project Playbook is how they can keep up with search engine technology. If you feel this way you are not alone. Project Playbook provides tips to help you search for and find specific content on the internet.
Ask your children to teach you about technology! Everyone, even the surliest teenagers, likes being asked for their expertise. This is a win-win proposition. You get to learn about technology and how teens use it, they benefit from the increased safety and security your supervision and oversight provides, and you both get to spend time together! Try asking questions such as; what is the new game/app/social media platform? Can you help me install and configure it? Can you teach me how to use it? Can you add me as a friend? Why do you use it? How do you use it?
Sign up for online bulletins! There are far too many quality bulletins to list them all here but a good start is signing up for the one available on cybertip.ca. Bulletins will alert you of new technologies and trends and safety or security concerns. For example; when Snapchat map feature sends an an alert about the feature and the steps to deactivate it. Likewise (e.g. Roblox game, Musical.ly app etc.) alert users if the platform is infiltrated by predators.
And now a little of that Google Voodoo!
- Google Alerts can be setup at www.google.com/alerts. Simple to setup and use and highly effective, Google Alerts was an invaluable resource during Project Playbook Co-Founder Matt Richardson’s time with the Government of Canada. He used them to monitor media coverage, public sentiments, identify protests being planned at my office, and to help flag potential threats and safety concerns. You can use them too. The example shows a series of alerts designed to notify of issues pertaining to online safety and hot trends related to apps, games, and social media platforms popular with children and teens. While effective, Google Alerts can miss content, thus we still conduct Google searches to ensure we see anything important or time sensitive.
- Introducing the power of advanced search operators! I know those of us that are not technically inclined are possibly cringing … guess what … although advanced we at Playbook have made it easy and simple for you! Let’s begin with a simple example.
If we search Project Playbook Co-Founder Theresa Longo by name we get 401,000 results! Wow … now that is overwhelming. To refine our search to exclude irrelevant results, add parenthesis to the name so it appears as “Theresa Longo”. Results go down to 65,100. Not bad but still too much. Introducing additional keywords narrows results further. In addition to using parenthesis, add a few new search “operators”. The new search looks like this … “Theresa Longo” AND “Actress” OR “Model” AND “Toronto” OR “Peterborough”. This search tells Google to only return results with Theresa’s full name (not one or the other) and only pages with the word Actress or Model and either (not both) Toronto or Peterborough. My results are now 9,820. Granted that is still a fair bit but Theresa has a high profile and considering we began with over 400,000 results this is far better.
Finally, we add one more search operator to the mix. The “site” operator limits a search to a specific website. For example, site:imdb.com “Theresa Longo” returns only results on Theresa within the IMDB website. This is a very useful (and time saving) search operator.
One can imagine how many results a generic a search term like internet safety would return (a lot!). In the example below we select a small number of reputable sites with expertise on the subject of internet safety. We provided keywords. Finally, under Tools button on Google the search is limited to only results within the last year (this can be set to month, 3-months or whatever timeframe you like). This limits the results to only relevant content on those sites and filters dated info out (technology changes fast so results from 2012 are unlikely t be relevant). Last step – bookmark your search and/or save it to your desktop so that you do not need to manually add the search criteria each time. Test it out with a search string below simply by copying and pasting it into a Google search window.
site:protectchildren.ca OR site:cybertip.ca OR site:projectplaybook.ca OR site:smartsocial.com “online” OR “internet” OR “cyberbullying” OR “cyber bullying” OR “sext” OR “sexting” OR “sextortion” OR “human trafficking” OR “grooming” OR “lure” OR “predator” OR “hottest” OR “dangerous” OR “latest” OR “social media” OR “app” AND “safety”