How many of us have taught our young children to not talk to strangers, not to give out their address or phone number, and to not share private details of their lives with people they do not know? This is all great advice needed to keep our children safe, but what happens when your child is old enough to start using the internet?
Having your child fall victim to a bully or a predator used to be something we only worried about when our children were not within our reach. Today, it can happen at home, right under our own noses while your child is surfing the web and posting on social media.
I have four girls of my own, ages 12, 10, 9, and 5 and I used to be a person that just didn’t use social media and basically only logged onto a computer to research a topic. As my daughters got older, I noticed them asking for things like ipods, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. I started doing some thinking and realized that we live in a world surrounded with technology and it is inevitable that my children will be using, if not relying, on it eventually. Of course, they are still young and I can hold off a few years if I choose to, but what is the proper age a child should get a tablet or cellphone? Is it better to teach my girls at an early age how to navigate the internet or is it better to wait until they are more mature? And, if I know so little about the internet and social media myself, how can I teach my girls to be wise and safe? Is it ok if I spy on my kids and know their passwords to their smartphones and social media sites or is this an invasion of their privacy?
I decided to take action and embrace technology, the internet, and social media myself so that I can better educate my children and know what signs to look for that could scream DANGER!. There is a technological divide between previous generations and today’s generation of adolescents and teenagers. We cannot hope to keep our children safe from identity theft, cyberbullying, or predators unless we educate ourselves and teach our children how to browse safely. I believe this education needs to come from their parents and from our children’s schools as well with some sort of internet and technology safety class built into the curriculum nationwide. I look forward to sharing my journey….