Thursday, April 5, 2012

It Takes a Village: Protecting Our Kids Together

A main goal for this blog is to share resources for parents as they help their kids navigate through everyday technology and the flood of media messages that come with it. Parents need to be the gatekeepers for our kids. We need to be the ones to introduce our kids to the digital world, to talk to them about digital citizenship and media messages, and to manage their screen time responsibly. And although we must do our part at home, we can't do it alone. It's going to take a village.

Scott Steinberg, author of "The Modern Parents Guide," shares his expert advice in a CNN.com article titled Why Parents Should Educate Their Kids About Tech. "The Internet's potential to improve our kids' lives is boundless," he says. "But leaving children, and their parents, unprepared to navigate its pitfalls just doesn't compute."

One of the ways our society can make changes is by developing organized training and support programs, says Steinberg. He makes the following suggestions:
  • Online training and digital-citizenship certification programs for kids.
  • Continuing education classes provided by colleges and employers for parents.
  • Online forums that connect "parents and kids to technology and health-care professionals."
  • Organizations with local chapters that provide "support for families facing issues like cyberbullying and Web addiction."
  • New laws that provide a "safe framework for families," and vigilance by law enforcement officers to nab online predators and protect kids.
If put into practice, these ideas can help our society make fundamental changes. Stephen Balkam of Family Online Safety Institute calls it a "culture of responsibility" in which many groups work together to keep kids safe.

Another expert, Judy Warren of Web Wise Kids, says:
"The biggest threat on the Internet today is parents that are not involved in their children's use of technology. It takes a unified effort to keep kids safe on the Internet (that) has to begin with parents, because it has to start really young."
The word needs to get out. It is vital that parents know why they need to be involved in their kids' digital lives. And our communities need to take action to support them.

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