Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Moved my blog!

I have moved my blog to - please update your favorites, and join me over there!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cyber Stalking

The Wall Street Journal reports that GPS technology in cell phones and location services on social networking is making it much easier for stalkers to track their victims.

The report mentions that those who are most at risk to be stalking victims, 18-24 year olds, is the same demographic that uses technology such as social networking. The majority of stalking victims know their stalkers, and thus would be connected with them, even if they are not directly "friends", on their social networks.

Please take a few moments to watch this video. Then,make sure you check your settings on your cell phone and social networking page, and make use of the "block" feature on Facebook when needed.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What Americans Do Online

Nielson has a released a new report called What Americans Do Online: Social Media And Games Dominate Activity Nielsen Wire. One of the most interesting facts to come from this report is that social networking has not only become the #1 activity on the web, this report indicates that it has a full 25% share of our online time.

Some other interesting facts to come from this report are:

* Online games overtook personal email to become the second most heavily used activity behind social networks – accounting for 10 percent of all U.S. Internet time. Email dropped from 11.5 percent of time to 8.3 percent.

* June 2010 was a major milestone for U.S. online video as the number of videos streamed passed the 10 billion mark. The average American consumer streaming online video spent 3 hours 15 minutes doing so during the month.

* Email remains as the third heaviest activity online (8.3 percent share of time) while instant messaging is fifth, accounting for four percent of Americans online time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

10 Golden Rules

Germany’s consumer minister has recently called for the creation of the "Internet’s 10 Golden Rules”. As I was considering this concept, I thought I would write my own personal list. Here is what I came up with.

Ken Knapton’s 10 Golden Rules of Internet Usage
  1. Be respectful. When responding to others online, I will always show respect and will not degrade or demean. I will live by the mantra that “It is OK to disagree, but it is not OK to be disagreeable”.
  2. Be kind. I will be kind to all with whom I interact online. I will not use technology to bully, harass, or otherwise degrade or demean others.
  3. Be myself. My online identity will be a realistic representation of who I am. Someone who knows me online would not be surprised to meet me in person – I am the same person in the physical world, with the same passions, skills, and experiences as I am online. I will not portray myself as someone I am not.
  4. Be accountable. I will take ownership and responsibility for all of my comments, posts and interactions on line. I will not hide behind anonymity, screen names, or other mechanisms to try and hide my online interactions. I will not use technology to participate in any activity that I would not want my children, spouse, ecclesiastical leader or anyone else to observe.
  5. Be lawful. I will respect the law online as I do in the physical world. I will not use technology to participate in anything that is illegal or immoral.
  6. Speak up. I will join the conversation, and share - not force – my opinions and views on blogs, news stories, and other online media. I will allow those who want to find me to do so – I will not force my content, opinions or judgments on anyone else.
  7. Do no harm. I will not encourage others to participate in any online interactions that would cause them harm. I will not participate in any online interactions that would cause others harm, put them in danger, or cause disruption to their livelihood or family.
  8. Strike a balance. I will not allow virtual interactions to take an inordinate amount of time or attention away from my other “real” interactions and relationships. I will not use technology as a time-waster. I will use technology to enhance “real” relationships – not to harm them.
  9. Show integrity. I will show a high level of integrity in all of my interactions – whether online or in the physical world.
  10. Use good judgment. I will not forward emails in the hope of getting a check from Bill Gates, helping some poor child in a third-world country, or seeing something “cool” on my screen. I will not open attachments from people I don’t know. I will not try to accumulate “friends” on my social networks just to get a big number, but instead I will be judicious in my choice of whom I communicate with online, and how I manage my online interactions. I will protect my identity, my data and my relationships.
So, now you know my personal 10 Golden Rules of Internet Usage. If you agree with these, and would like to add your name to this list, feel free to leave a comment agreeing with this list. If you disagree, think I missed something, or want to share your own list, feel free to leave a comment to that effect as well.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Education is key

In the June issue of the Ensign there is an article entitled Education is Key to Protecting Families from Pornography. The article passes along several of the suggestions I offered to parents at the Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and Other Harmful Materials conference eariler this year. Please take a moment to follow the link above and read the article!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Technology as a Tool

One of the points that I try to make when I speak on Cyber Safety is that technology itself is neither good nor bad - the morality of technology comes in how that technology is used.

I had a perfect example of this recently. I was speaking in Salt Lake, about 45 miles from my home, and when I got back in my car to drive to my next engagment, I couldn't turn the key to start my car. Evidently, the tumblers in my ignition column decided they were tired of tumbling, and wanted a permanent rest. After coming to the realization that no amount of fidling with the key would get it to turn, I gave up and called my wife to come rescue me. We left my car in Salt Lake City, returned home, and apologized profusely for missing a speaking engagement (that is probably the worst part of this for me, but that is not the point of this post).

Since the next day was a holiday, I knew that I wouldn't be able to get the car fixed for at least one more day. I really didn't want to leave it on the street, and worried about how to fix it so far away from my house. I knew that we couldn't tow it home because I have to turn the key in order to get the car out of park, so we were pretty much stuck. Being the "computer geek" that my wife frequently reminds me that I am, I decided to turn to the Internet to see if anyone had been thoughtful enough to post instructions about how to hotwire a car. Sure enough, I quickly found step-by-step instructions. I returned to my car, followed the instructions and was soon on the road returning my car to our driveway to be fixed sometime in the future.

Prior to this incident, had I run across instructions online about how to hotwire a car, my first thoughts would have been about how this information contributes to the deliquency of minors, and teaches kids how to embark on a life of crime. While there still may be an element of truth to that sentiment, I am grateful to have found the information I needed to assist in a very valid need of getting my property back to my own home. People who want to steal cars will figure out how to do it, with or without the Internet. The fact that instructions are posted online is not in-and-of-itself evil.

As I continue to say, the Internet is neither good nor bad - it simply "is". How we use the information we come across on the Internet is where we put that information to good use or evil use. The ethics and morality of how we use technology is completely in our own hands. It is important to remember that, since there are not many things that you cannot find out about on the information superhighway today. It is even more important to teach our children this concept so they understand how to use technology as a tool to help uplift, and not to drag down.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

7 Ways to Reduce Online Dangers

Education Tech news today listed 7 ways to help educate school children about online safety. I am honored to be listed as one of the 7.

Friday, April 30, 2010

How does Violence in Gaming affect our children?

Here I discuss how violence in gaming affects our children. This is an excerpt from my talk at the "Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and Other Harmful Materials" conference earlier this year.

UCAP - Filters 101

Here is my discussion of filters from the "Protecting Children and Families From Pornography and Other Harmful Materials" conference earlier this year.

UCAP - Intro to "Cyber Safety"

I posted some excerpts from my talk at the "Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and Other Harmful Materials". Take a look here:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Utah Coalition Against Pornography Annual Conference

The Deseret News today had an article about the "Protecting Children and Families from Pornography and other harmful material" conference sponsored by the Utah Coalition Against Pornography. They quoted my break-out session. Very nice write-up of a great conference!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

C u l8r. Will these be your final words?

Seen on a billboard along I-15 in Utah: "C u l8r. Will these be your final words?". According to a University of Utah professor, distracted driving is responsible for more teen deaths than drunk driving. As quoted in this article, 1 in 10 drivers are talking on the phone at any given moment. And, although some states have enacted laws against texting while driving, many continue the practice. While this is dangerous enough for adults, it is even more dangerous for less experienced and more easily disatracted teen drivers.

Parents - urge your teenagers to put away the cell phone while driving. Help them understand that there is nothing so urgent that they have to respond to it while they are driving. Leaving the cell phone in their pocket while in the car could quite literally save their life.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Soldier court-martialed over his Facebook Status

Adults also need to be cautious of what they post on Facebook - this story tells of a soldier who posted the details of a pending raid, and was court-martialed for it. The "digital natives" who grew up with technology engrained in their lives often don't think through the consequences of sharing everything on their favorite Social Network!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Public Library Computers

I continue to be amazed that many public libraries do not install filters on their computers. As this story from the Salt Lake Tribute shows, there are individuals who are so drawn to their addiction that they will not hesitate to view inappropriate material in a public place, where our children can look over their shoulder at any moment.

While we can control what our children see on the computers in our own home, we do need to remember that they have access to the Internet in many other locations, including the public library, their school, their friends homes, and - if they have a laptop, netbook or smart phone - anyplace they can find a public WiFi hotspot. Even if we have protected our home computers, we need to talk with out children about what is available, and how they can avoid it.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to set Parental Controls on Game Consoles

After a recent Cyber Safety event, several of the participants asked me how to set parental controls on their game console. Since each one is different, I could not provide step-by-step instructions at the time, but I thought it would make a great blog post.

As you may know, most game consoles today allow Internet access, either to enable multi-player games over the Internet or to even to enable web browsing directly from the game console. These web browsers are not filtered by the content filter that you may have installed on the computers in your home, so you may want to make use of the parental controls to disable web browsing altogether.

Parental controls can also be used to set limits on the types of games that you allow in your home. Most games today have an ESRB rating, which is much like a moving rating - it informs parents of the target audience for the game, and helps communicate what type of activities are found in the playing of the game. For more information on ESRB ratings and how to interpret them, click here. You can use the parental controls to limit the games based on their ESRB rating.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for setting parental controls for the three most popular game consoles on the market today:




Remember that your game console is every bit as powerful of a computer as the desktop and laptop machines that you may have in your home, and require just as much parental oversight.

Teen gets 15 years in prison for Facebook scam

19-year-old Anthony Stancl has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, plus an additional 13 years of extended supervision, for sexual crimes initiated on Facebook. He posed as a female and enticed other teens to send him sexually explicit images of themselves, then used those images to blackmail them.

The District Attorney prosecuting the case said he is not sure the message is getting out to the kids, as sexting continues to grow as a problem among our teens. He is quoted as saying: "I'm just not sure they're hearing this message...I hope their parents are."

I agree. Parents, we need to know what our kids are doing online, and help them understand that there are real, long-term ramifications to their actions.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Parents Beware - random video chat

I am hesitant to even write this post, for fear of generating some curiosity. The only reason I do is because your content filter will probably not automatically block this site - and you will want to keep your children away. Please, take my word for it, and add these two URLs to your block list: and

This is a relatively new site that is catching on very quickly. According to this post, it grew from 300 users in December to 10,000 in February of this year. The site allows you to randomly connect via video chat (that is, through the webcam on your computer to the webcam on another computer) to another individual who happens to be using the site at the same time. If you don't like who you are chatting with, you click "next" and are randomly connected to another person.

Although the terms of use state that pornographic content is not allowed, there is no way to actually control what people display on their webcam, and you know as well as I do that there are some really crazy people out there.

You do not want your children accessing this site. If you have a content filter installed, add this to your block list. If you don't, now would be a great time to install one - before your kids stumble across it.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Apple Removes 5,000 apps from IStore

Thousands of applications have disappeared from Apple's iStore in the past few days. Apple has begun enforcing their new policy of not allowing "overtly sexual" applications. I applaud them for this move. There is no age restriction for using an iPod, and many children have access to one. In their first attempt to resolve this problem, Apple enabled a "Parental Controls" feature for the iPod, but taking the additional step to remove these adult-oriented applications completely is another big step in the right direction.

Of course, this is a very controversial move, and Apple is taking some heat from those on the other side of this issue. I just want Apple to know that I am very appreciative of their new policy, and I applaud them for it.

One final note of irony for this post: I really wanted to provide a link to another source (news story, blog post, etc), but I couldn't find one that didn't have an image in the article showing what types of applications have been removed! I can't in good conscience provide a link that would send my readers to view the very material that we are talking about as being inappropriate for the iStore. Yes, I know that one can see most of these images in a magazine rack in the local grocery store, but that doesn't mean that I need to point you in that direction. So, I apologize for not having a link to a full news story on this post...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cyber Bullying: Legality vs Morality

A Federal Judge has ruled that a former high school student can proceed with her lawsuit against her old high school over a facebook-related suspension. She was suspended for posting unflattering comments about a teacher on a facebook page, and urged others to join her, and is now suing to have her record expunged (you can read full story here). There was a similar ruling in December from across the country - in this case, a student was suspended over cyberbullying content aimed at another student and posted on YouTube (you can read that story here).

In both of these cases the justice system is siding with the individuals who use digital media to post derogatory comments about another person - today referred to as a "cyber bully". The judges in both cases are listening to arguments related to the first ammendment, and extending that right of free speech to digital Internet communications. Seems like an appropriate interpretation of "free speech".

On the flip side of the issue is a now-famous case involving Sue Scheff, who was defamed online. Sue brought a case against her attacker, and eventually won an $11.3M verdict, which has now been upheld on appeal (you can read about her case in her book Google Bomb).

So, what are we to conclude from these cases? That kids can say anything they want without fear of retribution, but adults can be held accountable for their words and actions? I guess that would be one way to interpret these cases. But, I tend to see this just a bit differently. For me, it comes down to a subtle yet dramatic change in the world in which we live.

Today kids are empowered with tools that we didn't have when I was young. If I had a problem with a teacher, or a fellow student, I could tell maybe 20 peolple. My parents would get wind of it, and they would sit me down and have a heart-to-heart. I would then have the "opportunity" to return to the invididual that I was defaming, and apologize. No harm, no foul - and I got to learn a lesson about how we treat others.

Today, our kids can tell thousands, even hundreds of thousands of people - including future employers, college recruitters, future spouses or religious leaders. Word can spread quickly, and once it is in cyberspace, it is there forever. Whether the person we are defaming is a student or an adult, the information is now "out there" for anyone to search and find, and the ramifications are much more far-reaching than they were before digital media. By the time the young one realizes they were too harsh, an apology to the defamed individual is not going to resolve the issue any longer.

For me, these cases highlight the fact that in todays digital world it is even more important than ever for parents to be teaching morality and ethics, rather than just legal right and wrong. They need to teach digital responsibility. Parents need to know what their children are doing, how they are using digital media, and what their children are saying about others - be they students, teachers, leaders, or anyone else. Parents need to know how their children are using technology, just as they need to know how their children are using the car. If the children do not show restraint in their use of technology, it is up to the parents, not the legal system, to reign them in.

Of course, this means that parents need to understand the persistent nature of digital media, and parents need to understand that posting untrue, or even extremely biased opinions about other people can be extremely dangerous to those individuals. A student who posts defamatory comments about a teacher could have a very negative impact on that teachers ability to earn a living - while this may be legal, it may not be morally right. Parents have to instill in their children their moral compas, and help teach them to be guided by this compas throughout thier lives.

In our digital world, a momentary lapse of judgement by an adolescent who doesn't think through the consequences of their actions can lead to very real, and very serious consequences. Informed and involved parents can go a long way toward minimizing the impact of such lapses of judgement.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Family Movie Night

Our family really enjoys watching movies together. Getting the family together and watching a good movie is one way we like to spend our time - but it is difficult to find movies that we can watch as a family - expecially with the age ranges that we have in our home.

Several years ago we looked into ways to get movies that would meet our family standards. We found two different ways of accomplishing this - one was the companies like CleanFilms and CleanFlicks that would edit the movie, re-burn it on a new DVD and rent that DVD to us. The other was ClearPlay, which uses a special DVD player to edit the movie on-the-fly. We chose to use CleanFilms, and enjoyed that service for a couple of years.

Soon, however, CleanFilms, and those like it, were put out of business because Hollywood didn't like someone else editing thier movies - so, we were left without a way to watch movies as a family without worrying that the PG or PG13 rating still didn't meet our family standards (for example, you are allowed one F-bomb in a PG13 movie...we don't want any...).

Because of how their technology works, ClearPlay doesn't have the same legal issues - although they have been challenged in court. That is because they are not modifying the DVD itself at all - instead, they provide a "filter" that you can download from their website, and the movie is "edited" in real-time as you watch it. Once I realized that they had come out with a high-definition version of their player - well, somehow one of them made it under our tree this past Christmas.

Now that I have had a chance to watch a few movies on it, I figured I'd provide a quick review here.

To use a ClearPlay device you will need to purchase the device itself, then pay for the filters on an ongoing basis. We purchased the annual license, which gives us full access to all filters for a full year. Not a bad deal.

Our first experience was not good. After loading the full library of filters, we put in our rented DVD, which was of a fairly new release movie, and sat down to watch the movie. The ClearPlay device told me that there was no filter loaded. I looked on thier website and saw the filter listed as one that they offered, so I ended up calling support. Turns out that the filter is tied to the version of the movie - widescreen is one filter, standard picture is another, etc - and we just happend to get a version that they didn't have a filter for. Bummer. I had to keep the remote handy, and we did indeed have to fast-forward a few scenes. Not fun.

Our next two movies were much better. We inserted the DVD, and immediatly our player found and loaded the filter. The experience watching the movie was not too bad. There are two possibilities when ClearPlay is editing the movie - 1. it will skip a scene entirely, and 2. it will automatically mute the sound.

The first time ClearPlay muted the sound it was a bit odd - I thought something had gone wrong with the DVD. A conversation was going on, and suddently all sound was gone. We saw the actor moving his mouth, but we heard nothing - including all of the background noise (the discussion was happening in a subway). Then, I realized that he was using expletives, and the device had edited them out for us. Very nice.

We could not always tell when a full scene was edited out, but once one of the actors made a reference to something that had happened earlier in the movie, and we realized the scene had been skipped - but it really didn't affect the flow of the story at all. I did notice some slight pauses in some scenes, as though the DVD stuck for a half a second - I am not sure whether that is an indication of a scene being edited out or not - but if so, it is a small price to pay for removing a scene that we don't want our family to see. Still very worthwhile.

So, bottom line: ClearPlay is a great way to watch movies. We are very happy with our device, and plan to use it to, as ClearPlay says, bring back family movie night.