Myspace, Facebook, Youtube and other social networking sites have become a way of communicating for our kiddos. These types of social networking sites and others like them put a whole new meaning to the phrase, “Don’t Talk To Strangers”. One thing that our teens do not think about is the consequence associated with posting a photograph on the Internet. The student may be posting the picture now as a 15 year old, but when that individual becomes 30 how could that photograph be potentially damaging to the individual. Once a photograph has been posted online, students have lost all control of where it may go and how it might be manipulated.
How can we protect our teens and how can we be good parents to high tech kids? Awareness, information and monitoring are our best allies. Below is information from the Texas Education Agency about Internet use and protection for our kids. The Internet is a valuable learning, communication, and entertainment provider. A child’s Internet use should be based on age and the family’s needs and values. The Internet can help with research and homework, facilitate easy communications with family members and friends. Although the Internet can be educational and entertaining, children should spend time offline.
Appropriate Internet activities for children should be age related. Teenage activities may not be appropriate for a young child. Parents must understand potential Internet dangers and prepare their children, just as they prepare them for going to the playground or crossing the street. The Internet contains inappropriate information for children, such as pornography, hate literature, aggressive advertising and violent images. Internet communication often is anonymous, especially in chat rooms or blogs. A sexual predator may pose as a friends to lure a child away from his or her family’s protection. Cyberbullies may target a child for harassment. Parents can provide the best protection for their children and help reinforce the principles learned in the classroom.
Families should reach agreements about acceptable Internet activity and content. Parents should read about and know how to respond to Internet risks. Parents should talk with their children about safe and appropriate web sites and activities. Although children should be encouraged to report anything they feel uneasy about, if parents overreact, children will be less likely to confide in them the next time. The family should create rules about what children can and cannot do while online. Monitoring is crucial. Parents should know where their children go online, how long they stay there and the warning signs that something is wrong. Computers should be placed in family areas as opposed to bedrooms; however, be aware that instant messaging devices, cell phones, and wireless computers may allow children to get online anywhere. Filters are helpful but not fail proof. Be aware of circumventor sites, which allow users to get around filtering software controls. Parents should monitor your child’s Internet use and consistently check history, bookmarks and favorites.
Recognize the warning signs of when a child might be in trouble, doing something they should not be doing, or spending too much time on the Internet. Report any problems to the Internet Service Provider and local law enforcement. Some Internet activities are not only dangerous but illegal. Students should maximize the Internet’s potential while protecting themselves from potential abuse. Students should take nothing for granted and understand that everyone they come in contact with virtually may not be who or what they proclaim. Know what to do and who to ask for help when a student encounters a person or site on the Internet that is offensive or threatening.
Cyberbullying is bullying or harassment by means of electronic devices including chatrooms, email, and instant messaging. Many times young people do not know what to do if they are being bullied online. Teaching young children and teens to protect their privacy online is an important and beneficial task. Many times Internet users are not aware that their information is being compromised.
Common sense guidelines for communication in the virtual world are much the same as in the physical and face-to-face world. Sound online practices such as not revealing personal information like a home address, phone number, or school location to strangers hold the same importance. Chatrooms, messaging, social networking sites, blogs and email can be used by people trying to keep his or her anonymity.
Please call my office if you have any questions about this article or any other question about school happenings – 325/372-3144. Don’t forget to check the website regularly for new updates – www.san-saba.net
“Accessing and Maximizing Minds”