One form of communication today that is extremely popular is texting. It is so easy because you can get straight to the point of communication. This may be why it appeals to the younger generations.  They have even gone so far as to shorten words to enable quicker communication. Because it is so popular, this form of communication is definitely something that parents should be aware of and place parameters around.  Until a child is trustworthy with the cell phone there may need to be limited, if any, texting.

Another issue that has popped up in this current trend is called “sexting.”  This can be either sexually explicit conversation or explicit pictures.  With the introduction of camera phones this has become a major problem.  The government is beginning to crack down on explicit pictures sent via text.  Most teens send them as a joke or because they have not thought through the ramifications of their actions.  However, because they are underage, the government is treating this issue as child pornography.  Please have a discussion with your child about this issue before allowing them to send or receive texts.


Cellphones and Responsibility


One of the biggest complaints about cell phones and teens seems to be that they are not staying within their minutes.  This causes the family phone bill to be astronomical.  If you have not decided to have your child pay all or part of their bill, then this may be an issue.  When children are responsible for the money, they to pay more attention.  They at least need to take care of whatever overages that have accrued.  Take their cell phone away until those overages are either paid off out of their allowance or worked off by doing jobs around the house.   Unfortunately most parents would rather pay the debt than fight the battle.  It might be easier to just pay for it, but it teaches nothing.  This is a responsibility issue.  Cell phones are a privilege and responsibility opportunity not a right.   This is an excellent training time for a child who may not be paying attention to those small details.  It is those small details that may help them be successful later with finances and work related responsibilities.

Cellphones and Responsibility2010-04-26T15:17:55-04:00

Internet Gaming


As we close out our week discussing internet safety, we have merely begun to scratch the surface.  The point to remember and put into practice is accountability.  We must make our children accountable on the internet for their safety.

Many parents are not aware that many of today’s gaming systems are connected online.  You can set your Xbox live and Playstation 3 up to play other people online.  This is fine and fun when you are connecting with your friends to play.  Problems can happen, however, when they are playing people that they don’t know.  I wouldn’t have them stop in the park to play checkers with a person they don’t know, why have them with strangers play online?

Social networks also offer a variety of games to play.  This is another area that parents need to be aware of and set parameters.  Your child does not need to be gaming with people that they don’t know.  Most of these games have open chats.  And most chats have very inappropriate discussions in them.  This is often where predators hang out. Please monitor your child while they are gaming to make sure they are safe and that no one they don’t know is talking to them.

Internet Gaming2010-04-20T11:01:37-04:00

Protecting Your Child’s Innocence


Many areas of the internet can be scary for parents.  But, like we have said before, just because a pool can be dangerous, it would be ridiculous to avoid all water.  We have to place rules and parameters in place for our children’s safety.

Today we are going to talk about protecting your child from pornography on the internet. Research indicates that children as young as 8 have been exposed.  This is why we must safe guard their innocence.  Some of the simple safe guards apply here. The computer needs to be in a central location and a filter and/or montitor needs to be in place.

Ultimately however you as a parent need to take charge of the education of your child in this area.  A child with a healthy understanding of their sexuality may not be as drawn to it.  Take preventative measures in conversations.  There should be an “open door” policy in your home when it comes to the topic of sex.  Children must be made to feel they can ask their parent anything.  Even this will help protect your child from searching to have their questions answered.  It is our responsibility to educate our children on this topic and when we do it may prevent problems later.

Protecting Your Child’s Innocence2010-04-20T10:56:53-04:00

Social Networking and Your Child’s Reputation


It is a parent’s job to help the teen protect his or her reputation.  The impulsive nature of teens seems to block them from thinking about the long term effects of some of their social networking choices.   The myspace/facebook profiles are perfect examples.  Look at your teen’s profile and make sure there is nothing objectionable.  Establish a list of rules to protect your teen’s reputation.

Most teens do not think that colleges and potential employers look at their MySpace/Facebook pages to try to get to know them.  Comments, as well as, pictures/videos that are posted can damage their future.  Even comments that friends make on their pages reflect who they are.  With uploading pictures and videos happening often, they need to be run by the parent before they are posted. This helps add one more layer of accountability for internet usage.

Social Networking and Your Child’s Reputation2010-04-20T10:50:12-04:00

Social Networking


What’s a parent to do about the social networking scene. Kids today seem to do a lot of their “hanging out” online.  Which is why there has been an explosion of social networking sites. Parents must set parameters.

Many parents are not aware of the fact that sites have a 13 year age minimum.  Sites are doing what they can to safeguard younger children. They also have an automatic privacy setting for people under 16.  The problem is children are getting on and lying about their age.  Parents that allow their under 13 year old to have a Facebook or MySpace account are encouraging dishonesty.  This can be a very dangerous and slippery slope.

If your child is over the age limit that does not mean they must have an account.  These accounts need to be handled responsibly and can only be trusted to teens who can handle the responsibility.

Parents need to know passwords and privacy controls need to be set so only friends can see their page.  Teens need to understand they are not permitted to share personal information such as phone numbers, address, email addresses or any other information that a stranger could use to contact a child for a one on one. Only people they know are to be allowed to be their “friends” on their pages.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of safe guards, but it is a starting point.   First and foremost keep an open dialog with your teen about their page or even get a Facebook or MySpace page yourself so you can keep track of what’s really going on.

Tomorrow we will discuss social networking and reputations.

Social Networking2010-04-19T21:36:13-04:00

Computer Safety


In the discussion of privacy vs protection on the internet may be the most debated and overwhelming issue to parents.  We are going to open this week by going over some basic computer safety. The reason to place such high priority on internet safety is made obvious by some of the following statistics.  Of teens surveyed, 43% who had a profile on a social network site said they had been contacted by strangers,  21% said they had responded. Research from 2005 stated that 1 in 3 teens, 10 to 17 year olds, had been exposed to unwanted pornography.  Add to that the millions of children who have been victims of cyber bullying.

These stats are scary. It is our responsibility to place appropriate parameters around the internet and usage of the computer. The simplest safety policy is to keep the computer in a public place.  That way it can never be behind closed doors, literally.  Because this is a safety issue it is not wise for children to have internet in their bedrooms. The second safety policy is a password.  Children need to come to mom in order to get on.  This prevents any late night usage without parental consent. A third safety precaution is a safety filter.  Beyond the safety filter parents need to consider having monitoring software.  This software allows the parents to see not only where their children have gone, but some can actually monitor chat and emails.

Some parents may feel these precautions violate their children’s privacy.  Consider the fact that 1 in 5 children ages 10 -17 have been solicited for sex online! This has gone way beyond a privacy issue … it is a protection issue … and protection comes first. These statistics should not immobilize but spur us into action to protect the safety, wellbeing and innocence of our children.

Computer Safety2010-04-19T09:39:56-04:00

Creating Accountability


This week we have discussed several of the easier topics concerning your child and their choice of friends. Today we are going to discuss protecting as they get older.  As children grow they want to be more and more independent and they should be.  This creates another training opportunity for parents.

You can allow your child little bits of freedom with their friends to build trust. This means however, that it is our job to check up on them.  This creates accountability.

In my (Torrey) teen years birthday parties started to become the boy/girl dance parties that most parents dread.  My parents had a plan to use these parties for training purposes. Instead of not allowing me to go, My Dad would call to make sure they knew what would be going on and to make sure there would be an adult present.  They would then halfway through the party make an appearance to make sure everything was following our family rules.  I knew that the party had gone over the line and I hadn’t called home, I would be taken home and not allowed at the next part.  They allowed me the freedom to make the choice to call but also checked in on me to make sure I was doing what I was supposed to.  While at the time it was embarrassing, I knew that they cared enough about me to get involved at this level.

When we begin to allow freedoms to our child, we have to follow up.  When parents allow these freedoms they are training decision making.  “Should I stay at the party even though I know I shouldn’t or should I make the decision to call home?” When parents follow up they have no way to keep our children accountable…which means we are failing to train our children as well as failing to protect them.

Creating Accountability2010-04-13T08:36:22-04:00