Don’t Forget the SPAM!

Monday, July 30, 2007 at 03:01PM

We all know what a pain SPAM can be.  If it isn’t a great investment tip, it’s helpful information on weight control, dating services, or Viagra. At the very least, these messages clog up our e-mails and give us a little chuckle every now and then. At the most, these e-mails can spread viruses, steal our identitites, and provide an easy portal to pornopgrahy and other mighty bad influences.  Good thing we are all grown up and know how to handle SPAM.

But, wait.  Our kids use e-mail too. If you are like me, you teach your kids about stranger danger and how to avoid online stalkers, but sort of forget about the whole SPAM thing–sort of figure the filtering software will take care of that one.  Unfortuantely, SPAM can show up in kids’ e-mail accounts regardless of filters or blockers.  According to a survey done by Symantec (a company that just happens to sell filtering software), 80% of children between the ages of 7 and 18 receive SPAM on a DAILY basis (see reference button for more survey information).  Although the survey is a few years old, it still highlights a problem that is easily overlooked.

According to the survey, 80% of teenage e-mailers receive SPAM on sweepstakes, saying they have won things like Playstations, 62% receive dating information, 55% have received weight loss information, 51% have received Viagra and “enlargement” information, and 47% have received e-mails with links to X-rated adult websites. For me,the most disturbing finding was that “although 89% of the kids surveyed responded that they have heard of spam, nearly 1 in 3 still do not know whether spam is good or bad for them. In addition, 22% of respondents said that their parents have never talked to them about spam.”

So…have you had a talk about SPAM? Take a few minutes to talk to younger and more naive e-mailers about what SPAM is (no, it isn’t a new friend who cares about your well being) and what to do with SPAM (no, don’t open the very interesting  attachment or follow the blinking link).  No matter how smart our software is, those SPAM’ers will always be a little smarter.  By teaching kids how to deal with the stuff, we can prepare them to effectively deal with the next new “friend” that drops a helpful note into their e-mail account.

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