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I picked my 6th grader up from school and watched every other teen using a cell phone. When I was in 6th grade, my friends and I were walking out of school talking and laughing. My 3rd grade daughter wants her own cell phone because her friends have one. When I was in 3rd grade, I was asking for a SWATCH.
Times are different.
As a teen, I wasn’t online and yes we had the Internet. Today, 92% of teens are online daily and 24% reported they’re online almost constantly, according to the Pew Research Center. Teens are checking in with their “friends” through multiple social networking sites. They’re posting where they’re at, what they are doing, wearing, seeing, experiencing and connecting to strangers. Teens are equating their worth with the number of “hearts” they have or “likes”. They’re losing sleep. Sleep they need for their developing minds and bodies. They’re reporting an increase in stress and anxiety.
“Why hasn’t so and so texted me back?”
“How come nobody likes my photo?
“Why don’t I have as many followers as she does?
“How come that person just said that about me online?
Do you remember what you worried about as a teen? I do and I’m betting our teens nowadays worry about the exact same things plus everything else that has come their way because of technology. Cyber bullying, for example is prevalent and it is because bully’s feel safe saying bad things about others hidden behind a screen and using an anonymous app.
Do you want to know what else is prevalent? Sexting, human sex trafficking, sextortion and our children seeing things online that CANNOT be unseen. Innocent children searching for something on YouTube for a school project or because they are curious, about a word, they heard on the bus and then they see something they didn’t mean to see. Innocent children who download an app on their phone because there is no perimeters about how they should use their phone and they do not know any better, they are a child. Innocent children who don’t know about turning off their location on their phone or that when they tell that “online friend” they’re lonely, that “online friend” is a sex offender.
It is scary. The statistics exist and the facts are there. Technology isn’t going anywhere. It is here to stay. As a parent, I know that I can either freak out and ban technology or I can educate myself and set clear and strict boundaries about how technology can be used in my home and what I expect of my children.
I wouldn’t want my children to take candy from a stranger. Why do I want them to talk to one online?
I wouldn’t want my children to cross the road without being taught to look both ways. Why would I hand them a phone and expect them to know how to use it safely?
Parenting is different today then it was 30 years ago but the basics still hold true. Our children need to have boundaries and be protected. They need our guidance, our supervision and consequences when necessary.
This is why, my sister and I have started presenting at libraries, schools and for organizations, to help parents, like ourselves, learn about keeping children safe online. To provide parents and community members with research, resources and support to help them parent in this new age of technology and mostly to empower them to protect their children!
It isn’t about trusting our children. It is about NOT trusting who is on the other side of the screen.
After our presentations, we hear how powerful the information is. How thankful the parents are. How we need to keep teaching and sharing what we know. This is why, I wanted to share with you these resources, these tips and this information. To continue the sharing and I hope you share this post. I hope you take steps to protect your children online.
When we know better, we do better. Your children and mine depend on it.
Resources to Protect Electronic Devices:
- K9 Web Protection
- Parental Safety Controls Ratings and Comparisons
- How to Spy on Your Children to Protect Them
- Parental Controls for iPad
- Lock down the iPad and iPhone
- Set parental controls for YouTube
Helpful Resources to Stay Informed:
- What is the Private Calculator App and how to find it on your teen’s phone
- Good and BAD apps for Teens
- Sex Trafficking in Michigan
- Sex Trafficking Facts
- College Search using Social Media
- Predator Warns Parents about Kik App
- How easy it is for a Hacker to Access Your Phone
- Number of Online Predators Online
- FBI –Facts about Sextortion
- FBI’s a Parent’s Guide to Online Safety
- Report Cyberbullying
- Social Media and American Girls
- Online Predators and Video Games
- Human Sex Trafficking in Michigan
- What Parent’s Don’t Get About Snapchat
- Why you should cover up your webcam
- Human Sex Trafficking Awareness
- Slavery in Michigan
- 1 in 6 runaways in 2014 were sex trafficking victims
Please share your resources, stories and advice here. If you’re interested in having us present, contact me for rates and details. We’re booking into the fall of 2016 and winter of 2017. We’re parents that have teamed up to combine our backgrounds in education, law enforcement and digital media. Here’s an example of a press follow-up after a presentation.