Tuesday 30 May 2023
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Update: Internet Safety for Parents with Scott Driscoll

Update: Internet Safety for Parents with Scott Driscoll

Internet Safety for Parents with Scott Driscoll

This interview is part of a special series by intrepidNOW Lifestyle on Internet Safety. The series is targeted at parents that know that they must protect their children from the dangers of online access but are not quite sure how.  We will interview the experts and share their prescriptive advice.

GUEST: Scott Driscoll, Founder and President of Internet Safety Concepts

Scott re-joined us to continue to share his advice for parents on many aspects of internet safety.  Specifically, this time we talked with Scott about the following:

  1. (1:05) Let’s get right to it Scott, I started this series a couple years ago on a personal journey to get smart on Internet Safety and to find the best technology to block and monitor all the bad things on the Internet from my then 10 year old. Now that my son is about to turn 12, the age at which we told him that he may be able to get a smart phone if he proves himself responsible, my personal journey now is more about teaching responsible use of technology.   Where do you stand on the balance between blocking and monitoring technology and teaching responsible use of technology?
  2. (2:55) What are the dangers of gaming and games like Fortnite?
  3. (4:59) Parents are now more aware that kids are being groomed online, but is it really more prevalent than when sex offenders stalked playgrounds years ago?
  4. (7:14) What are to top 2 our 3 pieces of advice that you would give parents that don’t know where to start digital parenting?
  5. (8:38) If parents are interested in getting your help, what is the best way to do that?
  6. (10:14) What have I missed, what else do parents need to be aware of regarding Internet Safety?

Visit Internet Safety Concepts on the Web and follow Scott on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN.

Check out our previous interview with Scott.

Check out our other great interviews on Internet Safety for Parents!

About Internet Safety Concepts 


Scott Driscoll started his law enforcement career in 1989 and retired after 21 plus years. For the majority of his career, he has worked with the youth in his community to help them stay safe. Many years ago, Mr. Driscoll began teaching elementary school children about the dangers of the Internet. Seeing the growing need and concern for Internet safety, Mr. Driscoll developed programs for middle school and high school students as well as parents. As a law enforcement officer, Mr. Driscoll has taken part in numerous Internet crime investigations. Some of the crimes were undercover online investigations, possession and distribution of child pornography, online bullying, and harassment, identity theft, enticement of minors and many others. Along with online investigations, Mr. Driscoll also has done forensic computer examinations for law enforcement agencies and instructs fellow law enforcement officials on how to use the Internet for investigations.

As a parent, Mr. Driscoll is also aware of the concerns that parents face every day. While speaking to parents, it became very clear that they needed this education to help keep their children safe. With firsthand knowledge of Internet crimes and the dangers of the world wide web, Mr. Driscoll started Internet Safety Concepts. Through presentations, Internet Safety Concepts teaches people of all ages how to stay safe while online.

On a regular basis, Mr. Driscoll gives presentations about Internet safety to parents, civic groups, school administrators, teachers, and children.

In November 2010, Scott’s first book, co-authored by Laurie Gifford Adams, was published. The book “www.R U In” is a guide for families and educators on what dangers lurk on the Internet and how we can all be safe.

The Internet is not going to go away; however, with awareness and education, we can make the Internet a safer place.


Joe Lavelle: Welcome back to intrepidNOW Lifestyle, I’m your host Joe Lavelle and I’m really looking forward to this conversation with another great thought leader in our series about internet Security and Safety. We’re going to get right to it. Today, we’re re-joined by Scott Driscoll, President and Founder of Internet Safety Concepts. Scott, welcome back to the show!

Scott Driscoll: It’s a pleasure to be here Joe, thanks for having me.

Joe Lavelle: Well, thanks for making the time today Scott. Before we start our discussion, could you remind the audience a little about you and your background?

Scott Driscoll: I’m the President and Owner of Internet Safety Concepts and that all started out as a result of my other career. I’m a retired law enforcement officer, and during my time as a law enforcement officer I spent about 8 to 10 years undercover online investigating crimes against children enticement and child pornography, and what I saw firsthand as a child online really energized me to start my company to help us educate about today’s technology.

Joe Lavelle: As a parent, thank God you did it, I really appreciate it Scott.

Scott Driscoll: Well, it’s a challenge, but it’s important information and working with parents is one of the things my company does a lot of.

Joe Lavelle: Awesome. Scott, as you know we started this series a couple years ago when I was on a personal journey to get smart on Internet Safety, and at that time to find the best technologies to block all the bad things on the internet from my 10-year-old son. Well, my son is about to turn 12 in a couple of weeks and I’ve changed my mindset. We’ve always promised him that when he was 12, if he proved himself responsible, he’ll be able to have an iPhone and he has proven himself responsible. So, I’m now more interested in teaching responsible use and learning responsible use. Where do you stand on that balance between blocking and monitoring and then teaching responsible use of technology?

Scott Driscoll: Well, one of the things I think is we teach responsible use throughout the whole course even if we’re blocking, we can still teach responsible use. If we’re blocking something, we can explain to our child why we are blocking it. At a younger age we want to teach responsibility, but also there are just certain things on the web that our kids shouldn’t be exposed to, they are not just age appropriate. So, at one point of our life I think blocking is very important tool. There’s a lot of positive things out there for young people to use with technology, but if it’s just not the right age then maybe they shouldn’t be exposed to it, and while I’m doing that with my kids especially younger, I’ll explain to them why I would be blocking something or why I didn’t approve of it.

As they earn my trust, they got older, they showed responsibility and respect, I would always tell them if they joined a new social media app once they turned a minimum age. First thing we would do is join it together. I’ll watch them, talk to them about it, let them know what my concerns are, but also let them know what the expectations are responsible, respectful and also that if something goes wrong come and talk to me, and gave them the power to use that app as they got older and earned it from me. It wasn’t something I just gave my kids, it was something that they had to earn by showing they were respectful to rules, respectful to themselves and respectful to each other.

Joe Lavelle: The last time we talked Scott, the big fad in our community were fidget spinners and they were driving parents crazy, we just couldn’t help ourselves from getting frustrated about it. Unfortunately, the fidget spinners are all at the bottom of our junk drawers right now and the big fad is Fortnite and it’s really overwhelmed all the parents here in our community. What are the dangers of gaming and games like Fortnite?

Scott Driscoll: Well, there are so many different games and Fortnite is a very extremely unique one. I have never seen such a wide age spread of people who play Fortnite. I go into a school it’s obviously one of the big things with students to talk about at a 4th and 5th-grade level. When I train police officers, they want to talk to me about it too. So, if we think about the widespread of age groups that play this, I think communication is the biggest factor.

Who we’re communicating with, what intention are we sharing through our profiles and through the microphones. We put on a microphone that has been set up and we’re communicating with strangers. I think most of the people out there in the gaming world are just good people trying to have fun, but some of the personal information that we’re asked about like where we’re from or what we’re doing, I think we really have to think about safety.

So, one of the ways you can do it is you don’t have to play these games with the headphones or microphones, you could just play the game with no communication, and if we do that it’s like the old games that we used to play Atari style where it’s just on a screen having fun, what it’s meant to be. The communication is where we can run into it, so I think as parents they should maybe sit down and watch with their kids are playing. Is it age appropriate for them because although the graphics in a game like Fortnite aren’t as extreme as others, the young kids might be seeing things that maybe they are just not ready to handle. So, I think it’s important to get involved and just see what our kids are doing.

I ask our kidsif that person says something mean to you right now, what could you do block him or what would you do? Start the communication with our children about these games. So if something does go wrong the kids aren’t unfamiliar with talking to us about a problem, they’ll say mom, remember when we talked about that problem, well this is what happened today and this is what I did. I think that’s an important part to online gaming and being safe when we do it.

Joe Lavelle: Scott I think parents are more aware that their children are being groomed on things like Fortnite and Minecraft and other online games, but I’m not sure they really understand the extent of what is out there. Do you think there’s really more sex offenders out there than when they treacher-ized playgrounds 10 or 15 years ago?

Scott Driscoll: I think there are just as many if not more. Through my opinion and in my experience I think what the internet has done is give a lot of people with those desires access through our children. So at one point, they might be looking at images of our children, and after a while that might not as you say feed their fantasy or occupy their brain like they want it to be, so the next thing might be communication with the child. Well. after a while that might not be enough, so the next thing they might do is want to meet the child or talk live to a child.

There’s definitely a grooming process that can happen online. That’s why as parents I think it is such an important role that we get involved. We don’t have to become experts because a lot of us didn’t have this technology when we were young, it’s new to us, but at least be aware and have a communication with our kids and what’s right and wrong and what to do if something does go wrong.

Joe Lavelle: And there is technology available to parents, I interviewed a local lawyer who this is a big issue with. She happens to be the parent of one of my son’s friends, and she tipped me off to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency site where parents can go and look up where sex offenders live, and that agency is obligated to notify parents when someone moves in the neighborhood. She told me and I went and looked up and had a similar figure from my house, within a 5-mile radius of her house there were 72 registered sex offenders.

Scott Driscoll: Unfortunately that doesn’t surprise me. In most states I know I’m a Connecticut, we have the same kind of what they call the sex offender registry, whereas they are released in and around the community they have to for a certain amount of time period depending what the court establishes, they have to register sex offenders and there are public databases where you can search, and I would find it very hard pressed to find one community that doesn’t have at least one or two offenders living there. But that doesn’t mean that they are all child offenders, the sex offender registry can, at least here in Connecticut can be all ages with different styles or crimes, but they do have sex offender registry.

Joe Lavelle: Scott, what are to top 2 our 3 pieces of advice that you give parents regularly that don’t really know where to start digital parenting?

Scott Driscoll: If we’re lucky enough to have the conversation before the kids start, what I always recommend is have a conversation about what as a parent your expectations are for safety, and one of the ways I have developed that is through my website there’s a contract that parents can download, and when you have the conversation with you kids about what your expectations are, you sign a contract saying as a parent I’m going to learn a little bit about this technology, I’m going to communicate with you, but as a student here’s our expectations for your safety and here’s what I expect you to do if something goes right or if something goes wrong.

And I think if we can start that before we use the technology, it’s just a good foundation for safety. Second, I think parents need to stop being intimidated by the technology, even though our children might know it better we can still learn about it. I remember growing up I was the VCR guy in my house, my dad could never set that VCR clock no matter what, and he turned to me to say set it every time we had a power outage. It’s okay to learn from our kids because they know about technology, but what we should do is meet in the middle with them about safety and talk about our concerns. And also I think parents need to educate and research through presentations. I’m sure a lot of people do like my company does we educate and just show how to be involved in it because although it might appear to be intimidating, it’s our children and I think we got to take an active role in getting involved and understanding what our children are doing.

Joe Lavelle: Companies like yours Scott are so important. Talk about how your company serves the community, what kind of services you offer and maybe if somebody was interested in bringing it to their town, how they might do that?

Scott Driscoll: Well, what I do is primarily now I’m an educational company I go to schools, communities, organizations, corporations and discuss the good, the bad and the ugly about today’s technology. I always emphasize that there is positive and I think there’s more positives than negative with technology, but we have to think about how we use it, and so what I do is through first hand experiences when I was child online or as a parent, what I saw, I put together programs where we can learn of how the programs work, what’s the good part, what’s the bad part and how to report somebody on a social media site if they are offending or if they are using some inappropriate terms, and I also talk to parents about parental controls and how we can go about getting that.

Through my company, anybody can go to my website and there is a contact tab where they can certainly reach out to me and I can provide them information. I do travel with my presentations, so if anybody is interested I can certainly talk to them. But education I think is such a key because I think we just need to know what our kids are doing. If we think about it as parents, when our kids took their first steps, we were right there by their side and if they stumbled we caught them, and then when they got on their bikes for the first time, we ran alongside of them as hard as we could so that they wouldn’t fall and get hurt, but then we hand then a smart phone with access to the world then we kind of say good luck. I think we need to just change that a little bit and get more involved and be that active parent that we all want to be.

Joe Lavelle: Great advice Scott. What have I missed, what else do parents need to be aware of regarding internet safety that we haven’t talked about, maybe that’s come out since the last time we talked?

Scott Driscoll: I think what’s really changed is well it hasn’t changed, it’s been around for a while, but our students and our kids who use technology refer to so many people as followers, and if you’re on social media and someone follows you, that means they get to see what you’re doing and they’re part of your life, and what I challenge kids to do is go through your followers with two simple questions, who is this person and why are they so important you’re communicating with them, and every day when I teach students kids come to me and go I didn’t know half the people that were following me.

And I always tell the kids, let’s think this through if you don’t know somebody what does this make them and they always tell me, stranger. I say you have great strangers safety skills that your parents have taught you since day one about if someone doesn’t seem right you run and tell something, but when we go online, we drop our guard. Just because we use the word follower, if we don’t know somebody that makes him a stranger, and because of some social media sites, they are almost encouraging our kids to bring in a lot of followers. I think it’s very important that we understand who we’re communicating with and limit the numbers of people we communicate with.

Joe Lavelle: More great advice, I appreciate that. Scott mentioned it, but I want everybody to take this time right now go at to, bookmark this site, keep up with what Scott does, he’s putting this stuff out there all the time, there are tools like the contract that he is coming up with that he is adding all the time and will be very valuable. Scott, it was so great to have you on the show, thanks for stopping by and sharing your wisdom with us once again.

Scott Driscoll: Joe, anytime you know how to get in touch with me. It’s my pleasure to share this information and help anybody I can.

Joe Lavelle: Oh it’s our pleasure as well. And that wraps this broadcast. On behalf of our guest, Scott Driscoll, I am Joe Lavelle, we’ll see you soon on intrepidNOW Lifestyle.

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JOE LAVELLE is a Healthcare Management and Technology Consultant with a record of successfully meeting the business and technology challenges of diverse organizations including health plans, health delivery networks, and health care companies for 25 years. Joe worked his way up through Cap Gemini and Andersen Consulting to the partner/VP level of at First Consulting Group, Technology Solutions Group and Santa Rosa Consulting. After running his own company, Results First Consulting, for 12 years Joe Co-Founded intrepidNow with Todd Schnick to create incredible content to dramatically improve the sales and marketing efforts of their clients.