New School Year: Great Time to Review Online Rules

Wrong-Way-206x300September is my January. I admit, over the summer, I slack off in many areas. With the start of a new school year, I am making grand plans on how to whip my family back to shape. So far, I have vowed to create a meal plan for each week, bring my cloth bags to QFC, and enter all activities into the family calendar.

This September, I am also adding some new tech resolutions. We will be making new passwords, parking our devices in a central location and updating our family internet agreement. If you are like me and making new school year resolutions, here is a timely article from Parenting Today’s Kids with 5 ways parents can address kids and social media.

Back-to-School: What You Need To Remember About the Internet

As your kids go back to school this year, you know they will be making new friends and forming new relationships.

Already, one of my daughter’s friends invited her to a sleepover. Turns out, I did not know the friend. I’m not a huge fan of sleepovers to begin with … even when I already know the family. In my experience, kids tend to get into more trouble late at night when they are empowered and encouraged by “pack mentality.”

Before I made my decision to let her go or not, I started my normal due diligence.I called and spoke to the mother directly and was able to find out that she is a teacher at the school my daughter attends and that she is highly regarded. I also found out who else was invited to the sleepover. Sometimes certain combinations of kids can be toxic. While the kids can be great individually, when certain combinations of kids get together, they can act differently and make poor choices. I am sure if you are a parent, you know just what I am talking about! Once I felt good about who else was invited and ensured there would be ample adult supervision, I decided to let her go.

So, why am I writing this on a site dedicated to helping parents at the intersection of kids and technology? Because your kids are forming new relationships online as well … this time of year more than ever. This is compounded if your child is entering a new school (such as middle school or high school).

Parents need to practice the same type of diligence I described above related to paying attention to who you kids are hanging out with online. The line between offline and online is now blurred. Chances are, if you ask a teen about the “real world,” they would explain that their online world and interactions there have the same importance to them socially as offline. But you need to remember that social media allows kids to connect and hang out with people, who in the end might not be the kind of people you want to them to hang out with.

5 Points of Social Media Contact Parents Should Remember:

  1. Set digital boundaries for your kids. Be specific about what your kids can and cannot do online. This is not a time to be shy … be specific.
  2. Show your kids examples of poor choices other kids have made and how they have hurt their chances of success. For example, almost every week we read about how a student athlete lost a scholarship opportunity because of something inappropriate they posted online .
  3. Monitor and pay attention. Check out the kinds of pictures they are posting on Facebook as well as what kinds of pictures your kids are posting.  Find out who they are hanging out with online.
  4. Remember that social media changes the rules of dating. Your kid may be fairly far along emotionally in a relationship based on social media and texting. Just because you have not met their boyfriend or girlfriend yet, does not mean they do not have one.
  5. Remind your kids that while you respect them and trust them, your job is to protect them. You have the right to access any device in the home (most likely you either paid for that computer or phone or you are paying the bill.)

Remember … it’s never your kid that something bad happens to … until it’s your kid.

 by , Senior Director, Child Online Safety and Protection at SpectorSoft

What do five kids ranging in age from kindergarten to high school, a Harvard MBA and years of protecting kids online get you? It gets you Lisa Shaw, COO of her very busy household, and a Senior Director at SpectorSoft, the number one leader in monitoring and protecting your kids online. She’s an expert on the technology and trends that you need to arm yourself with to be the best parent you can be in today’s digital world.