Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 2 Protection Against Cyber Bullying!

Parents, Guardians, and Youth...

Lesson Two - It is mandatory that parents/guardians establish an "internet use agreement" with their children."

I know you might be thinking, "What?"  "Are you kidding me?"  "No way!"  Hold on everyone!
Think back for just a minute to our analogy on driving.  There are tons of rules that we must all abide by and for good reason.  They are there for our safety and protection and for that of others as well. Without driving rules or regulations, there would be chaos and everyone would be put into harm's way.

If we are indeed serious about protecting our children from cyber harm, we must implement this lesson.  There are many great examples of internet use agreements on line.  One example can be found at (see below). It is a free download.  It is easy to understand and to implement.  All members of the family participate in the agreement - not just children.

If families want to be creative, it is also a great idea design your own family contract.  However, refer to an example to make sure that your agreement covers what is needed.  By drafting your own agreement, children (both younger and more mature) tend to have more of a sense of "buy-in."  As the kids grow and accept responsibility for their on-line behaviors, amend the agreement to reflect their maturity.

If your children break the contract or get involved in unhealthy cyber behaviors, the agreement is there to assist you in moving forward with consequences. More importantly, it will provide an opportunity to have a discussion about healthy and appropriate behaviors before additional harm is caused. In other words, it is an excellent communication tool!

Parents and guardians, don't cave in on this lesson!  Again, be strong.  Be the adult your children want and need you to be. You won't regret it!

Family Online Internet Safety Contract  (Sample - free download!)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 1 Protection Against Cyber Bullying!

Parents, Guardians and Youth...

Lesson One - Know why you are giving your children access to a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize the technology.

When are children reach the age of driving, we take many steps to prepare them for that responsibility:  driver's education class, driver's training, permit and practice driving, a written test, a driver's test, etc. Even then, when our kids start driving on their own, it is a scary and worrisome event. We know we have done our best to prepare them with protective measures, but we know anything can happen.

When we give our children access to a  piece of technology or give them permission to utilize technology, we are giving them the keys to drive in the fast lanes of the cyber world!  And it is indeed a dangerous place for them to be, especially without any instruction or preparation. Here are a few guidelines for implementing protective measures with lesson one:

1. Ask yourself why you are giving your child the piece of technology or access to it. For younger children, two good reasons may include for safety or for emergency contact. Doing school work or acquiring educational information may also be valid reasons as children age. If you cannot think of a good reason for utilizing the technology, hold off.  Do not cave into peer pressure or the idea that "everyone is using it or has access to it."

2. Once you decide what your reasons are, explain those reasons clearly to your children. Tell them exactly what the device is to be  used for, how it is to be used, and when it is to be used. For example, you  may give your child a cell phone so that he/she can call you for safety purposes. At the same time, are you giving your child permission to call friends, to text,  to take pictures, etc.?    

3. As children age, access to different kinds of technology is appropriate.  However, again, check your rationale for doing so. Think back to our driving analogy.  Once your children have passed all the driving requirements and obtained a  license, would you let them drive on the freeway right away?  Of course not.  The same parenting strategies must be implemented with technology.  Have your children proven that they are responsible with their usage and access?  Have they followed the guidelines you have provided? Are your children ready to take on the responsibilities as well as the risks?

Parents and guardians, I know this is hard work.  When we look around, everyone seems to connected to some device for some reason.  Be strong.  You are your children's best advocate and foremost protector!  Know that you are doing the right thing - preparing them and protecting them as they are driving in the cyber lanes! 

Parents and Teens: Are We Addicted To Our Screens?

How Screen Dependence Is Impacting Children and Families In recent years there has been a growing body of evidence that Internet Add...