Reviewed by Jane Balvanz
We all know the drill the flight attendant gives before the plane takes off. “Ladies and gentleman, please note the compartment above where the oxygen masks are stored. In case of an emergency, they will drop down. Please put your oxygen mask on first before assisting children or others.” We know why. If you can’t protect yourself first, you can’t help anyone else.
The Google Bomb book is a metaphoric oxygen mask. If we want to protect our kids from cyber bullying, we need to know what can happen to adults on the Internet. While it’s a wonderful place to communicate, conduct business, and access information, the Internet is also a virtual place with cyber land mines. You can’t navigate around them if you don’t know they exist.
A line from the book made me sit up and take notice: “Parents, if you cannot use and understand the technology your kids are using, then don’t allow them to use it. Period.” This wasn’t a call for parents to shut off their kids’ computers, cell phones, or ban them from technological advances. It was a call for parents to know as much as their children about technology, because what you don’t know about the Internet can hurt you….and your family.
This brings to mind one of my friends. She’s a successful business owner, financially astute, and her business is not Internet dependent. In fact, she’s so successful she doesn’t even have to advertise. She’s savvy, but she doesn’t know how to navigate on a computer let alone access the Internet. Her children know more about this technology than she does. They are six and seven.
Now to the matter of why the Google Bomb book exists. Sue Scheff, renowned and respected child and parent advocate and founder of Parents Universal Resource Experts (P.U.R.E.), became the target of unfathomable Internet defamation. She was hit by a Google Bomb. Because of false, defamatory material written about her on the Internet, she became a magnet for serious cyber stalkers and their followers. For a while, Sue’s life was not her own. Her story reads like the horrifying cyber nightmare you never want to experience and a “how to” in case you do.
Though reeling from cyber abuse, Sue refused to become a victim. She took measures to address the damage done. Lucky for us, John Dozier, Jr. and Sue chose to write this book. We benefit because Google Bomb teaches us ways to protect ourselves and our families from Internet abuse. One invaluable section, Top Ten Steps You Can Take to Protect Yourself Online, outlines how to take action immediately. The steps are preventative – think oxygen mask vs. domino effect. When your reputation is attacked online, the following can fall, one after the other: others’ trust in you, your job performance, your business, your area of expertise, your self-esteem, chances for advancement, and maybe your job. Your children may be teased or shunned because of it, and the result can be on beyond devastating. Just ask Sue.
In the end, Sue won an $11.3M lawsuit against her cyber stalker. The road was long and painful. The verdict was a landmark decision that changed the way we use the Internet. As you seek to guide and protect your children regarding Internet usage, seek to protect yourself as well. Put your own oxygen mask on first.