Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop ask: ‘Do you know what your children are doing online?’
CLARKSTON, Mich. ‒ It’s summertime, which means more free time for kids to play with their smart phones, tablets and other electronic gadgets.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and U.S. Rep. Mike Bishop want parents to know that there is an effective way to keep kids safe from adult-oriented online ads, even during those times when mom and dad can’t be present to supervise their child’s online activities.
It’s called the Michigan Child Protection Registry and Johnson and Bishop held a news conference today at the media center of Clarkston’s Renaissance High School to promote this valuable resource. The registry is a free and secure program housed on the Secretary of State website that families and schools can use to block adult-oriented ads for products like alcohol, tobacco, pornography and online gambling from reaching their children’s email inboxes, tablets, cell phones or instant messenger IDs.
“As much as we’d all like to, it is not possible to watch a child every minute of the day,” said Johnson, who has a teenage daughter. “It can be a struggle just to keep up with the new social media sites and online games our kids use. The ‘Protect MiChild’ website offers parents and caregivers a secure and simple way to put some controls in place regarding the Internet content their children see.”
Concerned parents or schools may register the electronic addresses for any devices children use at ProtectMiChild.com. The registry will block adult Internet ads for all registered contact points (such as an email address, smart phone number or instant messenger ID) for three years or until the youngest child with access to the contact point reaches the age of 18. Once the information has been entered into the registry, companies that send messages that advertise or link to prohibited products or services are required to remove the registered contact email, phone number or IM within 30 days from their mailing lists. Protect MiChild registrations may be renewed at any time for an additional three-year period.
Bishop originally sponsored the legislation that created the registry, introducing it when he was the Senate majority leader. He remains a strong advocate for greater Internet safety provisions for children, having introduced similar efforts in Congress.
“I’m the father of three, and like any parent, I can see the many ways children today rely on the Internet – for schoolwork, social media, mobile apps – you name it. That’s why it’s so important for all levels of leadership to ensure our kids are protected from inappropriate content when they go online,” Bishop said. “I was proud to introduce the Michigan Child Protection Registry during my time in the Michigan Senate, and I applaud Secretary of State Johnson for continuing to get the word out about this important tool. In Congress, I’ve remained focused on keeping kids safe, and I urge my colleagues in Lansing to continue and strengthen these efforts.”
June is the ideal month to promote the child protection registry because it is celebrated nationally as Internet Safety Month. Joining Johnson and Bishop at the news conference was Clarkston resident and mother Tonya Cunningham, who is the community organizer for the nonprofit Clarkston Coalition for Youth.
U.S Census figures from 2014 show that youth under the age of 18 comprise about 22 percent of the state’s population. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, teens spend an average of 2.3 hours per day engaged in electronic communication and recreation (surfing the Internet, playing video games, texting with friends, and viewing TV) and nearly twice as much time on the weekends. There are a number of Internet games, devices and services produced just for preschoolers.
“We are living in a digital age,” Johnson said. “To keep our children safe from influences and products that are not age appropriate requires action. The Protect MiChild Registry provides parents with the tools they need to help control the Internet content to which their children are exposed. It’s a great resource and I encourage parents and schools to use it to protect their kids.”
Visit the registry at ProtectMiChild.com.
A video message from Secretary Johnson about the Protect MiChild Registry is available on the Secretary of State website.