Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
June may be Internet Safety Month but in honor of the start of summer and kids clamoring to play on devices more than they do during the school year, it’s not a bad time to review online and mobile safety policies in your home. Having a conversation together rather than laying down the gauntlet about the dos and don’ts is always preferable. Kids need to feel empowered and like they have a say in the decisions in order to take more ownership of the rules.
If having a conversation seems scary and you’re not quite sure where to start, here are five helpful resources that can provide conversation starters and guidelines for your discussion.
Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI) is an international nonprofit organization that works with government, educators, as well as businesses and other nonprofits to make the online and mobile worlds safer for kids and families. Free downloadable materials available through the Parent Resources include Internet Safety Tips for Kids, Top Internet Safety Tips for Parents, and a Family Online Safety Contract with a side for parents and kids that is reasonable and realistic for today’s families.
Common Sense Media can help provide guidance about that hot new game that your child insists that all their friends have and is a must-have for your home. Before jumping into any purchase, stop at Common Sense Media for helpful reviews on apps, games, and movies to make an informed decision about the media that is part of your child’s life. Common Sense also reviews TV shows, websites, books and music, making it the most comprehensive and unbiased source of information online for families.
Recent survey results published by Cox Take Charge! found that tweens openly admit to engaging in risky online behavior including breaking family rules, accessing inappropriate content, and covering their tracks as they go to hide their activities from their parents. More than anything, parents of tweens need to create conversations that involve their tween. Start by getting up to speed on the latest terms your tween may be using through the Take Charge! glossary of terms. Then swallow some pride and ask your tween to teach you what they know. They’ll love the role reversal and being the teacher and chances are, you’ll learn a lot from them that will be beneficial to your relationship in the long run.
If a conversation about a mobile phone is happening in your home or comes up during the summer months, the thoughtful individuals over at Safely have developed a family smartphone agreement to serve as the springboard for that must-have conversation you need to have with your child before you take the steps to purchase a device. This five step contract incorporates important talking points but includes humor with each rule. For example, the agreement outlines how a phone is a privilege but “ownership of a phone is not guaranteed” and encourages kids to make good decisions or else they “may have to resort to tin cans and string to get in touch with anyone.”
NetSmartz acknowledges it can be hard to have conversations with know-it-all teens but older kids need to be mindful about things like their digital reputation when posting on their social media networks. It’s often hard for this age to realize that the things they post to Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and other online sites are there to stay and what this could mean for their digital reputation. Through their Real Life Stories section, NetSmartz has content tailored to teens about topics that take on a serious tone and feature stories from teens who have been victimized in real life. Videos like Your Photo Fate that details what could happen with a photo once it leaves their control and Cyberbullying: You Can’t Take It Back encourage teens to learn from their peer’s mistakes, recognize risky behaviors, evaluate their choices, and encourage communication with trusted adults.
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