Keeping kids safe nowadays is a lot different than it was when we were kids. Back in the day, we were taught about stranger danger, and how to say spot suspicious people who tried to pick us up after school by claiming they were friends of our parents. These days, predators don’t have to work as hard. Thanks to technology, they have access to kids right in their very homes.
It’s scary and something I think about all of the time.
My daughter is barely a teen. She and her friends are starting to explore communicating via text messages and video calls. They love watching videos on Youtube and playing interactive games together. I wanted to hold her back for just a few more years, but I know that it’s important to teach her how to be responsible when it comes to technology. Right now, texting and talking to friends in the community whose parents I know and talk to is a safe way for her to learn to navigate this privilege.
Yes, privilege. Because, let’s be real. None of our kids HAVE to be online. They don’t have to have cell phones, or tablets. They certainly don’t have to have social media. As parents, when we allow our children access to those things, it’s a privilege that we have to monitor and provide intentional support as our children figure out what to do with it. Because, if we choose to give our children access to the internet, then it becomes our responsibility, too.
Here’s what I know for sure: there are people in the world who want nothing more than to find a child to put in a compromising or dangerous position. They are skilled in manipulation, and as much as we think we know our kids, they are still children and can be influenced even though they might be “mature” or “know better”.
That’s not the only thing we have to worry about, either. Kids are also being manipulated by their peers to hurt themselves, to be bullies, and to do things that are just wrong. While it may not seem like a big deal to them now, some of these actions, if not caught and dealt with by the parents early enough, could completely change the trajectory of their future.
BE INTERNET AWESOME
It doesn’t have to be a point of contention, though, and it really hasn’t been in my house. My kids and I talk a lot about what’s appropriate and not online. We’re working together to be internet awesome.
So I know you think I’m talking about “being awesome on the internet” but I’m actually referring to a program created by Google called “Be Internet Awesome”, it helps kids be safe online! They’ve put together everything parents need to support kids in being smart, alert, strong, brave, and kind on the internet. From their new Be Internet Awesome Family Guide with activities and discussion starters to the Interland interactive experience that delves more into digital safety, it’s an amazing resource for families, especially those of us with newbies to the internet.
When it comes to technology and social media, I’m not afraid to parent my child. All it takes is one secret interaction, one risky contact, one bad decision for her (and my) world to be forever changed.
This is not a sponsored post in any way, but I’ve seen so many parents struggle when it comes to their kids and the internet so I knew I had to let all of you know about it!