Sunday, May 20, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 4 Protection Against Cyber Bullying

Lesson Four - Implement safety measures!

Before handing over a piece of technology to a child or young person, parents and guardians must implement several safety measures. Not doing so is as dangerous as allowing your child to drive a car with a seat belt on! There are many safety measures to consider, but here are a few that are not negotiable. 

1. Make certain that there is filtering and monitoring software installed into the device.
2. Set parental controls when possible.
3. Protect passwords.  Teach children not to share their passwords.
4. Protect profiles. Teach children to limit the amount and kinds of information posted online.
5. If children are using the social sites, utilize the security settings provided by the online social sites.
6. Report abuse to the internet use provider,social site, and/or to the police.

It is extremely important that you talk to your children about the risks and dangers of electronic communication.  Remind them that they are traveling in places they have never seen or are even aware of.  Talk to them about the hundreds and thousands of strangers who might be viewing their words, their profiles, and their activities.  Tell them that if they ever receive any harmful words, messages, or comments, they are to do three things IMMEDIATELY:




Parents, guardians, and other trusted adults - when children tells you that they have received hurtful, cruel, or harmful messages,texts, etc., do NOT disregard it or minimize it!  Believe them, comfort them, and support them.  This will not go away or get better by itself!  I will give you tips on how to deal with this in later blogs. 

For now, be the adult they need you to be.  Be the parent/guardian they deserve. Let them know you are they to protect them. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Driving in the Cyber Lanes - Lesson 3 Protection Against Cyber Bullying!

Lesson Three - Monitor the use of the technology!

Once adults have established a Family Internet Use Agreement, it is necessary to monitor the use of technology. What good is an agreement if there is no enforcement of rules or expectations?  Parents and guardians, do not think of this as "spying" or "invading your child's privacy".  This is responsible parenting!  This is how we protect our children!

Many adults say, "We put the computer in our den where everyone can see it."  Or, "Our kids have to leave their bedroom doors open so we can see what they are doing."  This is a start, but it is not enough!  Parents and guardians, you have the "right" to see where your child is spending time and with whom.  Sit down with them on a weekly basis and check to see where they are going and what they are doing with their technology.  It is being used in the ways agreed upon?  If so, great!  If  not, talk about what is going on, review the family agreement, and implement reasonable consequences. DO NOT take away the technology or ground them from it!  This does nothing to change the behavior and it teaches them to be more careful about their indiscretions. The whole point is to teach our kids how to be responsible with their technology.  A few other tips include the following.

1.As children test this issue or push back, weigh the children's right to privacy with your right to monitor. Again, explain the importance of protecting them. Caring for their safety is your responsibility as a parent or guardian.

2. As children age and develop, revisit the monitoring issue as needed.  However, do not stop monitoring! The older children become and the more proficient they are with their technology, the more at risk they are for cyber harm or the more they are likely to inflict cyber harm.

3. Use the children's track record as your guide in monitoring.  Have they been responsible?  Good.  Affirm them and validate them.  Continue to monitor on a consistent basis.  Have they been irresponsible, flirting with risky online behaviors, or hiding information from you?  Stop and talk with them about what they are writing and how it impacts others!  Increase your monitoring.  Be consistent!  Let them know that when their behaviors become more healthy and appropriate, they will earn back more freedom. 

Parents and guardians, if there were no law enforcement in place to enforce the rules of the road, undoubtedly no one would obey them!  This is just how human nature works. They same logic applies to monitoring technology! If your children know you are not going to check their online activities or behavior, they will venture out into unsafe territory and they will be put in harm's way.

Be the parent or guardian your kids want you to be - even when they don't seem to want it! They will still love you.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Go See "Bully" Movie!!

Parents, Guardians, Educators, Community & Spiritual Leaders, Youth...Anyone who cares about the social health of our country...please...go see "Bully - The Movie (YouTube Clip)" (The Bully Project) by Lee Hirsch.

I just finished seeing this brutally honest gut-wrenching account on the normative behavior of bullying in our country.  I was overwhelmed by the heartbreaking account of how individuals can torment and humiliate any human being and how bystanders can sit by and laugh and participate and do nothing to help the victim - adults included.  I was alarmed at how dismissive school and community personnel were and how in some cases they even blamed the victims for the horrific crimes committed against them.

Towards the end of the movie, I thought for "a moment" that there is no hope in changing this toxic societal behavior - it is just too common place and rampant. Then, I watched and listened closely to Kirk Smalley - founder of Stand for the Silent.  He started this organization after his son committed suicide as the result of chronic bullying. Mr. Smalley will not give up.  He will fight this issue for the rest of his life.  He will keep his son's voice alive.

When I walked away from the theater, I reminded myself that each one of us can make a difference.  I have always believed that.  And I do believe in the goodness of others. However, I think we are in dangerous territory of forgetting that each of one us deserves to be treated with respect, dignity, and with human regard.  I think we are on the verge of losing our empathy, compassion, and human connection for one another.

Please go see "Bully". Any one of these children in this movie could be ours - they probably already are. It will touch your heart and  move you to action. Let's each do what we can with whatever resources our at our disposal.

I know I will.  I will not give up.

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