This evening, I was fortunate enough to hear a presentation on Digital Danger by the Digital Innocence Recovery Group, a non-profit organization which offers programming to battle internet-related crimes. My kids’ school guidance counselor hosted this discussion, and I figured it would be worth my time to attend the meeting. Even though my children are still pretty young, in terms of internet usage, I want to be as educated as possible in how I can keep them safe in the technological world.
The internet can offer amazing resources, and frankly, in order to find success as adults our children will need to be quite tech savvy; at least, they will have to be more tech savvy than some of us are now as adults. It was sobering to hear, though, how easily a kid can screw up their future chances in education and employment by their online behavior. Not only can they find themselves in trouble, they can also become a target of the evil that lurks on the internet, in far more ways than I cared to consider before tonight’s discussion.
As daunting as all of this may seem, we can’t shield our kids from technology. Rather, it is imperative that we take an active role in their online activity. Even now, with their limited use of technology at home, my kids know the rules. I hold the password to the Apple IDs on their devices, so that they can’t install any apps without my knowledge. My daughter knows that her dad and I reserve the right to pick up her iPod Touch at any time and read through her texts. She’s had no issue with us doing that (her texts to friends are very sweet and innocent), but hopefully she realizes that this rule will continue for a long, long time. My sons will have the same rules when they begin to text and more regularly use technology. I’m quite certain, that as online resources continue to evolve, their list of rules will only grow.
Overprotective? You better believe it. Tonight’s presentation opened my eyes to something very important: We can’t completely restrict the kids’ technological experiences, but instead, we have to inform them on how to be responsible digital citizens.
What’s one more thing on the “How to Be a Good Parent” list?