Saturday, February 17, 2007

Desktop research: A parent’s guide to protect children against harmful cellphone content

I spent the morning doing desktop research for the guide on protecting children from harmful cellphone content.

I’ve been doing it sporadically since I decided to do the book, and now have over 200 pages of articles, conference proceedings, research reports and tips from experts.

Most of the tech child safety information on the Internet is however related specifically to Internet rather than mobile phones.

The bad news is that publishers may need convincing that cellphones content provide a new threat for children and parents need to proactively protect their children. They may need serious convincing that a book on the subject is justifiable.

On track

But I also found a lot of material that showed me that I am on the right track…. So it was a very productive morning. For example, a popular tip on Internet safety is that the PC should always be in the common room, not in a child’s room. A cellphone, which is always carried, and which a parent can’t view easily, circumvents that.

If your child is busy on her cellphone, can you be sure that she is IMing a friend down the road, NOT accessing harmful Internet sites through a cellphone or on a chatting to a potentially dangerous stranger on a social networking site?

Is she receiving harmless messages from little Cindy, whose family goes to the same church as your family, or is she chatting with a stranger or sending/receiving harmful content? Have you even activated a safety block on your child's cellphone, or did you only think to take measures on the family computer?

Also found a lot of information that gives me a legal and regulatory framework governing cellphone content distribution ( eg what the law says, codes of good practice agreed on etc)

A good strategy would be to do a local (SA) book and international version, and I already have an international ebook publisher in mind, if she’ll have me.

However, I'm going to start with the SA version book of the book because I have the right resources,including a book proposal, at hand. All I need to do is polish the book proposal before I send it out again.

Focus is key

A thought has been floating in my mind throughout the morning as I did the research that I probably have the attention span of a gnat.

The good news is that I never run out of things to write about, even on a slow news days at work. The challenge is that I have lots of story and book ideas and such limited time to follow them up, and so I have to choose wisely.

I guess one of the New Year resolutions that I didn’t make is that I should make an effort to be more focused in my writing efforts.

So what I’m going to do is choose one big book project to do in addition to improving my children’s stories, and then spend the bulk of my time on it.

I’ll type up the story ideas, but until I have a solid proposal floating out there with publishers, I will do nothing on them.

Read a short summmary of what the book will be about.

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