A Kid’s Best Online Protection is Between their Ears

Like most parents, I started out my journey feeling confident in my kids’ digital world. I watched with pride as they searched for information for a school project on Susan B. Anthony or watched a YouTube video on how to use the lattice method for multiplication. Most of the time, I marveled at how we ever got along without a computer. As the kids got older and my family’s technology use increased, my confidence began to waver.

After reading sensational news stories about kids and social media, I wanted to throw every device out the window. Headlines screamed out at me that strangers were stalking children on social networks, cyberbullying was an epidemic, and sexting was the new rage. Technology had apparently invited a world full of pedophiles, bullies and pornographers to my door.

I discovered that when problems occurred in cyberspace it was ultimately my fault. Some articles characterized me, the parent, as naive or neglectful unless I was monitoring every text, tweet, like and reblog with the proficiency of a seasoned NSA agent. Other articles labeled me a helicopter parent and predicted my constant surveillance would create a generation unable to make decisions on their own. In other words, to be a good digital parent, I needed to know everything they were doing online while simultaneously allowing them complete autonomy. Impossible.

Parents do need to be out front guiding their child’s internet use. Often the techniques parents employ are reactive not proactive. They are only seeing what their child has already done. This does not prevent mistakes. Reacting to texts already sent leaves parents in the position of punishing not guiding. The best way to prevent mistakes online is by giving them accurate information, teaching them how to behave and showing them how to live a healthy digital life.

For kids, there is no divide between their offline and online world. Conversations started at school move in to texting or messaging through an app. After school activities are shared with friends through Instagram or Snapchat. To them it is part of their lives. What they are doing online reflects what is happening offline.

Parenting in the digital world requires the same dexterity as parenting in the real world. As soon as they can hold a device, a parent is beside them teaching them how the online world works. Along the way, they create age appropriate rules to protect them while allowing them opportunities to explore the digital world. Having the digital talk is essential to teaching kids how to make good choices both online and off.

Faced with a tech-savvy kid, who rolls their eyes when a parent mixes up a browser with search engine, the digital talk can be intimidating. This is where “Talking Digital” comes in. This book begins with preschool and continues through to high school. Each chapter focuses on a different age and contains information about what kids are doing online at this stage, what topic parents should bring up, how to answer tough questions and what to do when a child makes a mistake online. This book is about giving kids the life skills needed to lead a healthy digital life. Ultimately, the best online protection a kid will ever have is between their ears.

 

It is time to start talking digital!

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Available on Amazon

 

ESRB celebrates 20 years of Rating Games

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Gaming has come a long way in 20 years. In the early 90s, the picture of a gamer was usually a male in the early 20s sitting alone in front of computer screen for hours. Today, 59% of Americans play video games. Most of them are not playing alone. Gaming is becoming a social activity with people playing online with friends and families. While playing games is a great way for families to connect, it can also be a source of conflict. Many of the most popular games such as Halo or Call of Duty are not for kids. Sometimes, trying to find a game that works for the entire family is a challenge. Thankfully, the ESRB is there to help families make the right choice.

esrb rating mobileThe ESRB, Entertainment Software Review Board, is a non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps so parents can make informed choices. They began rating games back in 1994. Over the last 20 years, ESRB ratings have appeared on nearly every computer or video game sold at retail in North America.

The ESRB is more than just ratings. On their website and mobile app, parents can read reviews and find out the reasons behind the rating. In our house, I turn to the ESRB and Common Sense Media, when I have questions about a game. What I love is before my kids ask to play a game they check these sites as well.

Over the last few years, I have talked with Dona Fraser,Vice President of ESRB Privacy Certified, several times about protecting kids privacy while playing games as well as how to choose the best games for your family. She always has lots of great advice for parents. To celebrate ESRB’s 20th Anniversary, I have pinned some articles about games and kids.

Finally, the ESRB asked me to be a ESRB Parent Ambassador. I am excited to be a part of an amazing group of parent bloggers. Below is the list of the Ambassdors. (Thank you techsavvymama  for the list!) Please check out their blogs for more information on choosing and playing games safely.

ESRB PARENT AMBASSADORS

Monica Vila, The Online Mom

Mary Heston, Mrs. Video Games

Leticia Barr, Tech Savvy Mamas

Sarah Kimmel, Tech 4 Mommies

Tina Case, Parent Grapevine

Ana Picazo, Bongga Mom

Eric & Camila, Geek Junior

Anne Livingston, Kids Privacy

Caryn Bailey, Rockin’ Mama

Beth Blecherman, TechMamas

Kimberly Kauer, Silicon Valley Mamas

Kris Cain, Little Tech Girl

Lori Cunningham, Well Connected Mom

Kathleen Bailey, Gaggle of Gamers

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Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

CSID_cyberSAFEBlogSeries-Backtoschool-01Thank you to CSID for inviting KidsPrivacy to take part in their Back to School Campaign! In the rush to join a new social network, kids often don’t take the time to investigate settings. Many popular apps will allow kids to open private accounts or choose to make a post private. Below is a link to my article where I discuss the different privacy options available on popular apps. For more information on privacy settings, check out my page containing Parenting Guides for Popular Apps and Websites.

Need more tips? On Thursday at 11 am (PSD) log on to Twitter and follow #IDTheftChat where CSID and Private Wifi will be talking about wi-fi at school and how to protect your child’s personal information.

 


Talking with Kids about Online Privacy Settings

Backtoschool_082514This guest blog post is a part of our cyberSAFE blog series focusing on back-to-school security, privacy and identity topics. It comes from Anne Livingston, the founder of Kids Privacy, which provides parents with information and resources to teach kids to share smart and stay safe online. This fall, she is publishing her first book – Talking Digital: Tips and Scripts for Parents Raising Kids in a Digital World.

When I download a new app, I like to figure it all out first. I take my time, look through settings, and read reviews. My kids have a different approach. They just dive in. Often, this means moving as rapidly as they can, ignoring the settings to get to the fun part. But taking time to explore the settings is a critical piece to protecting privacy.

In the past, teens were able to rely on privacy through obscurity. With so much information online, most communications were lost in a sea of content. Technology is developing faster and better ways to search. Now, people can look for things online via an image or location. These public photos and posts are becoming easier to find. This visibility can lead to unintended audiences. Parents should talk with their kids and teens about the importance of limiting information.

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