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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Up to speed on Internet safety

Parents and youth learn how in church workshops

Hey, Mom! We won $200,000!” I knew it was just a pop-up ad, but he didn’t. My 8-year-old son thought that since his stint playing a cartoon game online yielded such dividends, I’d finally consent to getting him that Gameboy. He thought his world had changed.

His world is changing. Children and youth are using the Internet for information and entertainment routinely. And with this access come challenges for smart usage and meaningful guidance.

Anita Smallin gets the thrill of current Internet applications. Now studying at Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., she spent her early career in Computer Clubhouses—after-school centers in Fairfax County, Va., where low-income youth could play with technology.

Looking over children’s shoulders, she saw the mistakes as well as the potential. “IM-ing, chatting, posting on MySpace can allow great self-expression,” she said. “But there are safer ways to do it.”

Smallin developed a talk that’s found appreciative audiences of youth and adults alike, including at a junior high youth gathering called Shekinah in the Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod and at Lord of Life Lutheran Church, Fairfax, Va.


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