Point and Click Parenting
A new cyber-safety site from the cable television industry with an overly long URL, PointSmartClickSafe.org, offers little new to the digital family for stimulating discussion about the electronic rights and responsibilities of young people.
However, one of the clear messages of its opening Flash screen is that young people now have ubiquitous computing devices, such as hand-held gaming systems, cell phones, laptop computers, and iPods that can be difficult for parents to supervise. The implicit message would seem to be that cable television companies offer a comforting form of centralization that seems to make monitoring of their children's computer-mediated communication possible in ways that can be a challenge if junior is picking up the wireless of a neighbor with a hand-held device and regularly clearing incriminating material out of his cached data. Their motto "Control Education Choice" should raise some questions, given the noncompetitive nature of many local cable monopolies and the industry's resistance to network neutrality, which has been an important issue for many computer-savvy consumers.
As a work of Flash design it is also a terrible example of information aesthetics, a veritable what-not-to-do list for teaching any reputable web development class. The PointSmartClickSafe website includes annoying sound effects and distracting load screens, dated use of tabs for navigation, and inefficient turning-the-pages interfaces.
It is interesting to note that the PTA, American Association of School Librarians, and Public Library Association are featured alongside Cable in the Classroom, despite the fact the CIC can be seen as another troubling attempt to get broadcast advertising into schools under the guise of media literacy that should remind critics of the Channel One controversy of the previous century.
The cable industry is also sponsoring DTVTransition.org, where those who have held out against cable and satellite TV and still get signals out of the air are reminded that their days of free television are numbered, since -- as of February 2009 -- broadcasters will discontinue traditional transmissions entirely.