Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Anti-Bullying Month - Are You Ready To Take The Cyber Balance Challenge?!

As we continue our discussion on Bullying and Cyber Bullying, today we are going to address two more important strategies - Protection and Prevention.  And, I am going to encourage you to take The Cyber Balance Challenge!  Let's get started!

First, let's understand what Protection is.  Protection means to take steps to help keep us safe or lower the risk of harm.  But, as we all know, when we take steps to protect ourselves, it doesn't mean that will stop or prevent harm from coming our way.  Still, it is important to put protective measures in place, especially with dangerous behaviors such as bullying and cyber bullying.  Because cyber bullying is so rampant and it is very often an extension of traditional bullying behaviors, I am going to give you 3 Keys for Protection from cyber bullying.

1.  First Key - Get yourself and your family on a Family Online Safety Contract (Family Online
Family Online Safety Contract
Safety Institute). 
 This is mandatory! Download one now and get started. If you want to develop one of your own, great!  Use this one as a sample. This agreement sets up the rules, expectations, guidelines, etc. for online usage for the entire family.  By implementing this contract,adults agree to take responsibility for their online roles and children agree to do theirs as well!

2. Second Key - Know why you are giving your children a piece of technology or giving them permission to utilize it!  Caving in to peer pressure is not a reason.Technology should be age appropriate and adults must take the time to instruct them on the usage of each device.

3. Third Key - Get to know your children's Net Neighborhood! Again, this is mandatory!  Just as parents would want to know where, when, and with whom their child is spending time with in the real world, responsible parents will also want to know this about the Net Neighborhood.  Sit down with them and have them show you where they 'hang out' in the Net World. This is  an amazing communication tool and a great way to protect them from harm.

There are other Protective steps on my website Holli Kenley and in  cyber bullying no more: Parenting A High Tech Generation.

Let's move on to Prevention. What does it mean? Prevention means to stop the harm or injury from coming our way and/or to keep the harm or injury from getting worse. In order to do this, we must address the cause. Although prevention is a little more tricky - especially with cyber bullying - it can be done. In the previous blog, we learned that bullying and cyber bullying are aggressive  behaviors - for the most part "learned behaviors".  There are two very important concepts that we must understand in addressing prevention.
  • Cyber bullying is a behavioral symptom or  manifestation of an underlying source - a lack of empathy for another individual.  Very simply, we cannot feel compassion for another person and simultaneously disrespect, dehumanize, and disregard the rights and being of another.
  • With the nature of cyber space and our ever-increasing dependence on communicating electronically (not face to face), we are more disconnected from the real world, we are freed up to behave in ways we would not normally do, and our behaviors are reinforced or conditioned by the technology itself and the features of cyber space. (More information on this in cyber bullying no more). 
Thus, in order to Prevent cyber bullying, we must address the cause - the erosion of empathy - as well as what is facilitating that erosion - our over-dependence on electronic communications. Although there are many important steps, let's start with these 3. Get ready...  You are going to need to Take The Cyber Balance Challenge!

1. First Key - Adopt an individual and family philosophy of Cyber Balance! For one week, take a survey of everyone in the family.  Write down every day how  many hours each person spends on technology.  At the same time, also write down how much time your family spends having face to face interactions - with no technology!! Be honest!  At the end of the week (including weekends), add up the hours for each. Ask yourself this question - are we in balance?  If so - great, keep up the good work! If not, regroup and set up new guidelines for cyber balance! Look to the Second Key  for help!

2.  Second Key - Find and establish ways to experience direct interaction - face to face - and practice empathic behaviors and reflective listening. Here are a few suggestions. Designate tech free periods during the day. During this time, as a family or individually, practice "doing good" for one another. Look for ways to cultivate empathy - helping out needy individuals, serving others, even doing each others' chores! Replace tech games with real life games and activities. Put all technology away at meal times and in short car rides. Have a tech free weekend once a month! When someone is talking, put down the technology, looks them in the eyes and listen! More suggestions are in cyber bullying no more! 

3. Third Key - Ouch!!!  Parents, guardians, and adults - you must model healthy use of technology! We must do what we say - we must practice what we preach! Let's live by example!  Put down your technology and spend time directly interacting with your children.  Be present and be available! Really listen to them - especially if you want them to listen to you!!

More steps for Prevention  are on my website, Holli Kenley - Recovery Expert.

And, I will be discussing Taking The Cyber Balance Challenge in more detail on W4CY Radio Wed. October 9, 2013 -  Holli Kenley - Keys For Recovery ! Join me at 12 pm ET!! If you  missed it, take a listen now....
Are You Ready To Take The Cyber Balance Challenge?

Homework:  Take The Cyber Balance Challenge - take your poll and regroup!  And, get your family on a Family Online Safety Contract!  Start today! 

      If you missed last week's show, take a listen  Anti-Bullying Month - Awareness & Intervention!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Anti-Bullying Month - How to Step Up and Step In!

October is a very busy month with several extremely important causes - Anti-Bullying, Breast Cancer, and Domestic Violence Awareness.  Today, we are going to focus on Anti-Bullying and Cyber Bullying. Although I blog about bullying and cyber bullying frequently, I want to focus on giving you a bit of background information and a few keys for intervention.  With a better understanding of both bullying and cyber bullying, we can step up our awareness and with a couple of strategies under our belts, we can step in and help our children more effectively!

First, let's start with a basic understanding what bullying and cyber bullying are.
  • For the most part, they are learned behaviors. This is important because if we learned it, we can unlearn it!
  • Both are considered aggressive behaviors  - some behaviors constitute a deliberate intent to harm and others are in reaction to being harmed.
  • Bullying and cyber bullying are different from "normal conflict". In "normal conflict", there is an equal balance of power; with both kinds of bullying, there is a significant power differential. 
  • Bullies and victims (both with traditional bullying and cyber bullying) can take on both roles. This  means that many times a child is who is a victim may also be a bully, and the reverse is true as well. The role of the bystander is also very important.
  • Children bully or cyber bully for many reasons.  The top 3 reasons (supported by research) are the following:  (1) For power and control or to feel better about themselves; (2) It is fun or cool; (3) For revenge or retaliation.  It is also important to note that individuals suffering with underlying mental health issues can also be a contributing factor.
Becoming aware of how, why and to what degree our children are involved in bullying or cyber bullying will help us to step in and intervene!  Let's take a look at 3 strategies.

1.  Have a conversation with your children about bullying and cyber bullying. 
  • This is important - put away all technology and set aside some time to really talk.  Share stories of when you were a child (talk about bullying or other difficult challenges).
  • Discuss bullying cases in the news or in your neighborhood, school, or town.
  • Watch the  movie Bully (or other films about bullying) and discuss it.  Bring the topic out into the open and make it comfortable for your children to share.  

2. Become familiar with the signs that your child may be being bullied or cyber bullied (or both).
  • Look for changes in behavior over a period of time.
  • Child may appear unusually sad, depressed, fearful and afraid.
  • Child is sleeping too much or is having difficulty sleeping.
  • Child isolates, withdraws, or spends  more time alone.
  • Child is easily angered or agitated (depression in children often looks like anger).
  • There is a change in routine, friends, or activities. Child does not want to go to school. 
3. Implement these first three strategies - for victim or bully or both.

 Victim: 3 S's
  • Support - Let children know you believe them and support them. You will make it better.
  • Safety Net - Let children know you will put safety measures in place: reporting to authorities, implementing technology tools, participating in a buddy system or support group.
  • Social Skills - Many children who are victims feel insecure, afraid, have low self-esteem and worth, or are withdrawn. Through activities, counseling, or group work, build up those skills - empower them! 
Bullies: 3 C's
  • Consequences - Punishment alone does not work well.  Find our why the bullying is going on and implement meaningful consequences.
  • Contract - Implement a behavioral contract that will change the behavior and reinforce appropriate behavior. Use positive reinforcement as much as possible.
  • Counseling - After knowing more about the kind of bullying, the degree of bullying, and why they child is bullying, please consider counseling. There may be underlying issues or mental health concerns.
There is more we can do to continue to become aware and to intervene with our children.  There is much more information on my website Holli Kenley and in my book cyber bullying no more .

And join me next week, on w4cy Radio - Kenley's Keys for Recovery when we discuss protection and prevention! 12 pm ET!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Got Empathy? These 3,000 Students Do!

Thursday, August 29th and Friday, August 30th, 2013, I saw empathy in action. Spending two days in the presence of Kirk Smalley and his Stand For The Silent message, I was paralyzed with hope as countless hearts were changed and lives were saved. Delivering his deeply personal narrative depicting the loss of his son - Ty Smalley - while simultaneously honoring the deaths of 55,000 other young people to suicide as the result of bullying, Kirk is able to reach in and connect with students, educators, and parents breaking down attitudes of exclusion and intolerance and replacing them with mutual love, respect, and support.  Kirk's presentations at six school sites and one community screening of the film Bully (in which Kirk's family is profiled), have left indelible images of the best of humanity and of the spirit of resiliency in the hearts and minds of those who were present.

I Am Somebody

Sitting on the sidelines during Kirk's message and witnessing an open dynamic exchange of empathy, these moments will be with me forever...

  • Hundreds of noisy, energetic, restless youth scramble to their seats awaiting the start of their assembly. Within moments of Kirk's first words, middle schoolers stop fidgeting; high schoolers lose their attitudes. An unfamiliar quiet sets in. 

  • After learning or being reminded of the American Sign Language hand formation for love and
    "I Support You...I Have Your Back...I Respect You"
    understanding that it can also mean "I respect you...I have your back...I support you", thousands of little and large hands spontaneously and continually pop up throughout Kirk's message.One little boy crouched on the floor in front of me holds up his two tiny hands throughout the entire ninety  minute talk.  Another special needs' young man sitting next to me struggles to hold down the ring and middle fingers with his free hand so his pinky, pointer and thumb will cooperate - so he can show his love and support to Kirk.
  • As Kirk relates the painful loss of his son to suicide because of bullying, two little girls sitting next to each other give him their loving hand sign with their outside hands, using their inside arms and hands to create a heart together - holding it steady and sending it out to Kirk. 
Sending love to Kirk
  • Hearing the personal tragedies of five other children lost to suicide because of bullying, children catch their tears with shirt sleeves and wipe their faces with grubby fingers while adults frantically search for pieces of tissue. Students lean in to one another, teachers put their arms around young ones and older ones too, and stray adults draw closer to one another. All across the gymnasium, a sea of loving hand signs ebb and tide towards Kirk, and one another. 
Honoring Ty Smalley

  • As Kirk moves into the theme of suicide making reference to his precious son and countless others, two boys leave their seats and walk toward Ty's large photo displayed on the gymnasium floor. They remove their "I Am Somebody" bracelets and lay them gently around the corners of Ty's picture. 
  • In each assembly, Kirk asks the students to raise their hands if "...you have ever been picked on, called  names, been made fun of or excluded....been bullied".  Almost every hand goes up. A collective ache sets in the room couched in a blanket of compassion for one another. Students hold the hands of one another and hold each other more tightly. Kirk looks them straight in their eyes and says, "I love you."
"Be The Hero He Can Be"
  • Shortly thereafter, Kirk asks the audience a 'tougher' question, "....Will you raise your hand if you are a bully now".  A few hands go up quickly; a few others take their time. Without hesitation, Kirk responds, "I love you, too" , sending out his hand sign. Kirk walks over to a high school football player who has raised his hand - who is shaken by the question and by his sudden ownership.  Kirk sits down in front of him and repeats, "I love you, too." Tears flow down the young man's face; his head lowers in shame. He is visibly distraught as Kirk stays with him, encouraging him to 'be the hero he is capable of being'.  Several moments later, as Kirk is speaking, another lone arm raises obscurely within the crowd.  Kirk pauses, giving him the space to talk. With hundreds of eyes on him, the tall lean young man chokes and whispers, "I am a bully, too".  Kirk responds, "I love you.... you can change that, can't you?" The broken boy nods. Hand signs of love are raised in his direction.
  • As Kirk continues to share the staggering statistics of youth suicide - one in four will not only think about suicide but will have a plan to take his/her own life before graduating from high school. And as he weaves in the theme that 'everyone has a right to be here....everyone is special....everyone is somebody', hope and healing fill the room. Suddenly, at one school, a young girl sitting high up in the bleachers stands up and holds her hand high in the air, sending out the love sign. A few more join in, then more; then within moments, all are standing.  Over 700 young people are on their feet - standing in solidarity - standing against bullying. Teachers, administrators and support staff are crying - welling with pride,compassion, and love.
  • Moving into the later part of his message, Kirk talks about 'his belief in young people...how they can be the change...how it doesn't cost anything to treat one another with respect, love, and dignity...how they can Stand For The Silent and each other through their actions, their words, and their commitment to be the change'. Trying desperately but unsuccessfully to hold back his own tears, Kirk delivers his final plea, "This is not an option...we cannot lose another baby...". Eyes are wiped and are wide open. Minds are swept clean of past pain making way for a pathway to change. Kirk invites those who are willing and ready to recite the Stand For The Silent Pledge. As a chorus of confident voices responds, Kirk concludes his message providing materials and resources for sustaining their commitment to change. Knowing the assembly is coming to a close, students ready themselves to dash toward him.
Stand For The Silent Pledge
  • Without exception, at every presentation, Kirk is met with a swarm of students. Some need a hug - some need to hug him. Others melt into his tall lanky body, wanting to absorb his comfort and his compassion. Many want to share their stories, knowing he will encourage and support them. And still, there are others, like a young boy who stood in line, waiting his turn and sobbing uncontrollably. And when Kirk reached out to him, this fragile precious little guy managed to choke out the words, "You changed my life today....". Kirk's long arms engulfed him into a embrace of safety and of support.              
With our children's lives filled with incredible hardship and harshness from a myriad of sources in our world today, it is a wonder that their little hearts are hurting and in many cases hardened. And then, a stranger comes along delivering an empathic message of respect, support and love for all - and an authentic softening towards the differences and uniqueness of one another takes hold. Kirk's audiences learn that if we are ever going to get a handle on this toxic tide of anti-social bullying behavior, we must provide dialogue that creates awareness and understanding and that opens our hearts to change and to compassion. And because Kirk's Stand For The Silent message provides the opportunity to be a part of and to experience firsthand the goodness of the human spirit present and at work, we learn or relearn to respect and regard the right of each and every human being to 'be here and be who he/she is'.

Let's Stand Together - Let's  Stand Against Bullying

Kirk Smalley's message embraces the power of empathy - an antidote to bullying. And although it is often a rare commodity in our society, today, if someone were to ask me if our kids 'got empathy?', I can answer unequivocally, 

These '3,000 Students Do!'   

A note of appreciation... It is amazing what can happen when a community comes together to join in
the support of a valley wide Anti-Bullying Event.  I want to express my gratitude to the following sponsors:  

The Prescott Film Festival, The Elks Theatre & Performing Arts Center, AAUW, MATForce, Arizona Parents' Commission On Drug Education And Prevention - 
Governor's Office For Children, Youth and Families, 
Yavapai County Education Service Agency, 
 Unified Schools Districts of Chino Valley, Humboldt, and Prescott. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

What Can We Do To Stop Bullying? Everything!!

Bully - The Movie

For the past year, my husband and I have spearheaded a small committee dedicated to starting a movement in our community "To Stop Bullying"! In order to do this,

we realize that the only way to create change is to open minds through education and awareness and to open hearts through compassion and empathy.

We will accomplish this with a two day anti-bullying event entitled "In Harms' Way: Dangers Facing Our Children Today"  which will feature Kirk Smalley of Stand For The Silent.  Kirk will speak to over 2,500 students at four local school assemblies as well as present at two public events. In addition, we will screen the film Bully through the Prescott Film Festival - a documentary which captures the tragic effects of bullying in the lives of five families.

Let's Stand Against Bullying - Let's Stand For The Silent

Many people have asked, why would you do this?  You no longer have children in your home? Why not just sit back and enjoy your retirement? Please read the interview below and you will find out why.

Bullying (or cyber bullying) is not a rite of passage for a child.  It is a recipe for ruination of a young person's life. 

What can we do to stop bullying?  Everything! 
 Let's do this now! Let's get this done! Let's do this together!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Drinking, Drugs, and Danger in the Digital Age! Is Your Family At Risk?

Drinking, Drugs, & Danger in the Digital Age

Depending on the generation, youth has always faced its social challenges, tested them, and moved through them - scaring some young people more than others. Over the past couple of months, however, two high profile cases have been in the news regarding the degradation of two young females by their peers - in real life, and then perpetuated by online victimization. The combination of drinking, drugs, and dangerous behaviors in the Digital Age has catapulted the violators of such injustices and their victims to a whole new realm of exposure, and of ensuing consequence. While emotions are highly charged around both of these recent cases (as with many others that mimic these horrific offenses), and while there are many different levels of accountability for all parties involved, Parents and Guardians are on the front lines of responsibility. And although there are a myriad of strategies to intervene effectively with both offenders and victims, Parents and Guardians, there are three critical interventions you must implement - now.

First, Parents and Guardians, give your children access to technology that is age appropriate. This not only takes into consideration the kind of technology, but also the degree of usage/exploration with the technology. We have rules/laws about the age of drinking. About the driving age. About the voting age.  Why? Because we know that the 'right to participate in a privilege' goes hand in hand with the 'responsibilities that accompany it'. On previous blogs I have addressed this, but once again, know exactly why you are giving your children a piece of technology. State the reasons to yourselves and to your children. Once you  do that, sit down with them and explain its uses as well as the rules/expectations that come along with it. Get everyone in the family on a Family Online Safety Agreement (see below). Introduce your children to the world a 'little at a time'. Help them experience success and allow them to demonstrate responsibility. Do not send them out blindly into an environment where they can falter and fail; where they can destroy their lives and perhaps someone else's forever.

Technology must be age-appropriate.

Secondly, Parents and Guardians, discuss and implement Digital Citizenship with your children.  
Although most of us struggle greatly with the heinous acts of offenders, many of us are even more incensed with the horrific online victimization that accompanies such injustices (photos, videos, etc. of the victims streaming through the Internet). In no way am I  defending any of the offenders when I remind Parents and Guardians that our children are subject to peer pressure. They are impulsive and egocentric. They think in the 'now'.  They are not analytical or evaluative; they typically do not project into the future about the dire consequences of their actions. Parents and Guardians, it is your job to have a conversation with your children about Digital Citizenship - what is good, appropriate, and decent behavior online (and off). If is critical that you lead by example and that you are crystal clear about what your children are to do when and if they find themselves or someone else in danger or in harm's way. In numerous studies,  many young people have stated that they feel that their 'online life is separate from their real life' and therefore, the same rules of respectful behavior do not apply. Remind your children that the 'law' does not see it this way.

Model and teach "Empathy".

Thirdly, Parents and Guardians, model and teach your children empathy. You might think I am joking. No way. This is probably the most important of the three concepts. Read on, carefully. We live in a world of technology; it is amazing and it provides us with incredible knowledge and entertainment! However, in study after study, researches have found that individuals who participate in online aggressive acts also demonstrate lower levels of empathy. In males, researches have detected  a decline in cognitive (thinking) empathy; in females, lower levels of affective (emotional) empathy. Think about this simple fact - we cannot feel badly or sorry for another human being and hurt or harm them at the same time. The lack of empathy itself is exacerbated by the aforementioned facts: the immaturity of the youth involved with their decision making and the disconnect they feel from the real world and their online world. Parents and Guardians, first, you must model empathy.  How are your treating others - online and off?  Do you demonstrate respect, kindness, and a healthy regard for others? Do you practice empathy with your own children?  Next, talk about empathy and teach it to your children.  Use the tragic examples in the news as 'teachable moments'. Ask them what they could have done differently or what they would do if they found themselves in a dangerous situation.  Role-play!  Yes, role-play with your children (age appropriately).  Go through the motions of a harmful situation. Stop and discuss healthy choices - how and when to make them. Parents and Guardians, the more you talk about and model empathy, the more likely your children will be to implement it when the time comes. It could make all the difference between hurting a victim and/or helping one. In short, their decision to chose to be empathic or not could significantly alter the rest of their lives.

Audrey Pott - Age 15

On September 10,2012, a beautiful 15 year old girl named Audrey Pott, attempted to take her own life after being horrifically violated - in real life and online.  Two days later, on September 12, she died. Her family has been forever scarred. Our hearts go out to them. The offenders - their lives and their families- are also forever changed. This didn't need to happen. Parents and Guardians, as we give our children freedoms to enjoy, it is our duty to instruct them about the responsibilities and the dangers inherent within them. 

Let's start today.  Let's step it up.  Let's protect our children... and all the others who deserve no less.    

Note: The Family Online Safety Agreement and other critical tools for parents are available in cyber bullying no more: Parenting A High Tech Generation.  Amazon

For more helpful parenting tools, tips, and resources, please visit Holli Kenley.
You are not alone! We are here to help!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Is "Catfishing" A Form of Cyber Bullying?

First of all, in the on-line world,  what is "catfishing"?   


According to the Cyber Bullying Research Center and one of its founders Justin Patchin...."catfishing refers to the practice of setting up a fictitious online profile, most often for the purpose of luring another into a fraudulent romantic relationship" (http://cyberbullying.us/blog, February 7, 2013, 12:41 pm). In the news recently, we have learned of the high profile case of Manti Teo who developed an on-line romantic relationship with another individual whom he believed to be a female. When Manti Teo discovered that the relationship was all a "lie", he and many others in his family were deeply hurt by the layers of deception deliberately inflicted by the online perpetrator.

One of the struggles that parents and guardians face is knowing what is considered to be innocent on-line teasing or playing a joke on an individual and what really constitutes "cyber bullying". Again, according to Patchin, "Anytime someone uses technology in a way that causes repeated harm to another, it can be classified as cyber bullying" (http://cyberbullying.us/blog, February 7, 2013).  Catfishing qualifies as a form of cyber bullying and should be dealt with as such.  As with other forms of cyber bullying, these behaviors are always intentional and aggressive; they can be perpetuated by a group or an individual; and they are targeted against a victim who cannot easily defend him/herself.

What can parents or guardians do to  help protect our youth against "catfishing"?

  • Do not give out personal information to on-line individuals that you do not know (in person).
  • Even if you know them, limit the amount of personal information.
  • Do not accept 'friend requests' from strangers.
  • Do not be fooled or blinded by someone's words of affection, or attention, or affirmation. This is how a perpetrator will draw in a innocent person!
  • If someone seems too good to be true - they are!  Trust me, no one is perfect!!
  • NEVER go meet with someone you met on-line!
  • TELL a trusted adult if you think something is "fishy" about an on-line relationship! It probably is!! 

Parents and guardians, in order to make any of this work, you must get involved and stay involved in your children's relationship with their technology.  You  MUST get to know their Net Neighborhood just as you would know their real friends.  Remember, you are not intruding on their privacy - you are protecting them from harm. You are being the parent they need and deserve.

For more tips and tools, please visit Holli Kenley

Note:  For more information, go to Cyber Bullying Research Center


Monday, February 4, 2013

Cyber Bullying - Who Is At Risk?

After spending the past several years researching, analyzing, and synthesizing the work of current experts on the issue of cyber bullying, I have discovered there is consensus about who is at risk.  Data strongly supports that international victimization rates range from 10 -42% in  most, if not all, developed countries. And, victimization does not discriminate; individuals targeted cross all social, economic, racial, and cultural boundaries. However, there is also agreement that individuals with special  needs and  GLTB (gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual) communities are more highly victimized. At the same time, as caring concerned parents, guardians, educators, youth, and community members/organizations try desperately to curb this social pathogen , there is an important behavioral tenant that reminds us of how any individual can be victimized or made vulnerable through cyber bullying or from any potentially harmful source  - the degree of access (to any person, place, or thing) is a predictor to the degree of consequence (either positive or negative).

Parents and guardians, it is common sense that we teach, guide, and monitor our children as they grow and develop. As is age appropriate and with maturity that demonstrates responsibility, we allow our children to embrace a myriad of social behaviors: making friends and having over-nights, dating, driving, attending dances and parties, holding down  jobs, etc. With each extension of freedom that we hand over to our youth, we often tremble with the awareness that they are more susceptible to harm. In order to maintain our sanity, we, as parents and guardians, rely on the guidance,expectations and rules that we have set for our children, and we trust in the mutual love and respect that we have demonstrated for each other. This is why it is disturbing and unsettling when I talk with parents and guardians about their lack of  instruction, regulation, and supervision when it comes to their children's use of technology.

Research supports that the more time children spend on technology, the more at risk they are for being victimized, for participating in bullying behaviors, or both.  Once again, the degree of access is a predictor to the degree of consequence. As responsible parents and guardians, there are several strategies to  put into place if we are going to help protect our children from harmful cyber behaviors.

  • When you give your children a piece of technology or give them access to it, know why you are doing so!  Have a solid reason for it. Peer pressure is not a good reason!
  • Clearly explain the rules and expectations about the use of technology. Yes,there should be rules! Start your children on a Family Internet Use Agreement or Safety Contract ! It is never too late. If you have not used one, start now!  (see below)
  • Monitor and supervise the use of the technology.  Am I kidding - NO!  This is extremely important. Yes, monitoring should be age appropriate and it can change as children show responsibility, but do not back down on this.  When parents ask me if it is 'ok' to invade their children's privacy, I respond, "It is better to do the hard work up front than live with the heart-ache in the end." If your kids know ahead of time that you are going to be  involved in their 'on-line life', they will not resent you for it. In fact, they will thank you, especially when they see that you are simply protecting them.      
These are just a few tools to help parents and guardians reduce the risk of harm from unhealthy cyber behaviors. However, the best overall strategy is to be an active involved parent/guardian in your children's relationships with their technology.   Let's change the behavioral equation to...

The degree of meaningful respectful parental involvement and oversight into your children's lives  is a reliable predictor to the degree in which your children will safely, sensibly, and successfully  navigate through life's social challenges.  

For more tips and tools, visit Holli Kenley!

Note: Download a "Family Internet Use Agreement" now and put it in place!
          Click "Parents"; click "Family Online Safety Contract".

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