By Rick Stegman, FCPS Educational Technology Specialist
As parents and educators, we worry about how to keep our kids safe in today’s digital world. And rightfully so!
We worry about what our kids will be exposed to on the Internet. We worry about what they might be posting on social networking sites. We worry about them becoming victims of cyber-bullying. We worry that our kids might actually be the bullies. We worry about our children being lured into relationships or situations that put them at risk. All of this is overwhelming! What can we do?
Our first instinct is to try and isolate our children from the threats we perceive. We might install Internet filters on our networks, tracking software on their computers, or location apps on their phones. We forbid them from having social networking profiles or from playing online video games.
But rather than focusing on building a wall around our children, our efforts are far more effective if we focus on our children.
The best thing we can do to keep our children safe in today’s digital world has nothing to do with technology. Expert after expert—including the FBI and local law enforcement, developmental psychologists, and therapists—all tell us the same thing.
We need to help our children develop their own internal filters, their own internal value systems, and their own internal sense of self-worth.
Build that relationship with your children. Be involved in their lives. Let them know that you see and appreciate who they are today. And help each of them as they develop into the person they are in the process of becoming.
It is basic human nature. Everybody wants to be heard. Everybody wants to be seen. Everybody wants to be appreciated for who they are as a person. As parents and educators, we need to give our kids the attention they need. If we don’t, somebody out there will.
More Parenting Resources
- Additional Internet safety information is available online.
- Family and School Partnerships offers fee-based day, evening, and Saturday parenting classes each month in English, Korean, and Spanish at the Dunn Loring Center for Parent Services (near Tysons Corner). Classes can also be scheduled at other sites for groups of ten or more. A complete list of classes offered can be found online.
- The Parent Resource Center (also located at the Dunn Loring Center for Parent Services), offers workshops and other events for children with learning challenges, special needs, or disabilities and their families. A schedule of upcoming events can be found online.
Website Alert for Parents
Although as mentioned above it is impossible to protect children from all Internet threats, FCPS wants parents to be aware that there are social networking websites such as Ask.fm and 4chan that are popular with students and are prime ground for cyberbullying because they are either anonymous or allow for the option of anonymity. If your children are using these sites or other similar sites, take time to familiarize yourself with them and consider having a discussion about cyberbullying with your kids.