The parents at our school sponsored a great workshop on social networking and keeping kids safe online. It was run by police at the local and state levels. As I took notes during their presentation, I kept thinking about the fact that some students are at more risk than others. Adolescents’ brains are not fully formed yet, and they do not have the ability to consistently make good decisions. Students with attention problems who are also impulsive can easily get into trouble.
The presenters at the workshop said more than once, “We hear people say that kids grow up faster these days than they used to. But they don’t. They just get exposed to a whole lot more a whole lot sooner. Monitor what your kids are doing online. Don’t worry about their privacy, because their safety is at stake.”
Here is some specific advice they gave parents.
I started this blog by mentioning that some children are at greater risk than others. If your child frequently makes impulsive decisions, you need to be even more diligent in monitoring his online activities. He might know better than to communicate with someone he doesn’t know, but he might do it without thinking about the consequences. He probably should not be in his bedroom online where you cannot monitor his activities. Remember, too, that you can keep his computer and smartphone with you when it’s time for bed (or unplug the wifi).
As parents, we cannot keep our children safe at all times. It is our responsibility, though, to teach them how to keep themselves safe. It is important to monitor online activities and educate ourselves about online safety. The FBI recommends the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website. Why not explore their site together with your son or daughter?