The 3Cs – Content, Contact and Cost

Unless you have a safety guide on every single device and feature in your household, it’s hard to keep up. Parry Aftab created the 3Cs to help. They stand for “contact,” “content” and “cost.” By using them, you can spot the risks and solutions for each risk, technology by technology, application by application and device by device without a degree from MIT.

Contact risks relate to direct communication features. How can people contact you using the technology and how can you (or your children) contact others? These include text messaging, instant messaging, phone calls, emails, direct messages, Twitter, Facetime, Skype and chat. It also includes voice chat on video game devices, such as Xbox.


Content risks include all information and media. It includes personal information posted online, as well as music, movies, video and text content. It covers pornography, misinformation, hate, and hype, as well as all other content issues.


Cost has two parts. One relates to commercial risks, like targeted advertising, ID theft, hidden charges or fraud risks. The other relates to all financial risks, such as lawsuits for pirating music, viruses that destroy your data or your devices and someone calling China too often from their cell phones.


Once you can identify which risk or combination of risks apply to that feature, application or device, finding a solution is easier. Some involve education, rules or warnings – “Don’t call China too often!” Some can be remedied with technology tools, such as device settings, anti-virus programs and spyware blockers. And some can only be managed by avoiding them entirely – such as not giving a child who is too young to handle it correctly a multi-feature Internet-ready cell phone or gaming device. It comes down to being a smart consumer and making the right choices child by child for your family.


Think about having your children make the case ofr any new digital device, identifying the 3Cs for each and the solutions to risks. The more they can provie how much they understand safe digital use, the more you can trust them without the training wheels.