Privacy vs. Protection | Part 10

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 10

Jun 10

Cellphones

When we talk about the parenting subject of privacy vs. protection today’s topic is: cell phones.  The push to have cell phones has become younger and younger.  Many households no longer even have a land line which makes families have to address this issue.

The first thing that a parent needs to remember is that a cell phone is not a right, as your children would have you believe, it is a privilege.  Before parents extend this privilege to to a child, there are many things that need to be thought through ahead of time.  What will be your family cell phone parameters?  At what age is reasonable for a child to have a cell phone… not according to their friends and social circles … according to your family’s needs and standards.  Will they pay all or part of their bill?  What will be the parameters for talking/texting on it?  All of these are easier if established beforehand.

As you are setting up family cell phone rules the obvious first step is leading by example. If the rule is “no answering the phone during dinner,” but the parent … their leader …takes a call, it’s an obvious huge inconsistency.  It can even be helpful to have a family charging dock where everyone leaves their cell phones over night.  This can help with the battle of calls and texts late into the night.

Phone rules also need to be established about where and when having your phone is appropriate.  There have been many issues with cell phones in the schools.  Even cheating has gone tech as kids are texting test answers to each other. There is no reason for a child to have their cell phone on during school hours.  It creates a distraction to the classroom environment as well as being against the rules.

As difficult as this sounds, parents can lead by example in the car.  Teenage drivers are not experienced enough to be able to use a cell while driving.  Most states have a hands free law in place.  Set an example when it comes to cell phone appropriateness.

One more area to discuss which 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.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

 
Privacy vs. Protection | Part 9

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 9

Jun 09

Cyber-Bullies

Another issue to address when discussing the reputation is the fact that some teens will attempt to defame each other using social networking sites. This is called cyber bullying. There is something that is different about cyber bullying from the usual form.  There is certain anonymity to it.  If you are on a social networking cite you can even set up an account with a fake name.  This would allow the bully to be totally anonymous.  What this means is that anyone and everyone could potentially be a bully. And statistics would show that it is a very common practice.  Even the victims of traditional bullying can take part in this form.

Because this is such a common occurrence and such a part of teenage culture, we must make sure that we talk with our kids about it.  When we set up the house parameters about internet we need to include the rules about cyber bullying.  Discuss with your spouse what the consequences will be if your children are caught being mean too or defaming someone else on the internet.

Many parents may ask, what’s really the big deal with this issue? First and foremost there are countless scriptures about guarding your tongue and not allowing unwholesome or slanderous talk come out of your mouth, in this case fingers.  But we also need to teach our children that not only is spreading lies wrong but spreading gossip about someone else is wrong as well.  The second thing to keep in mind is that there have been children that have been so affected by cyber bullying that they have gone so far as to take their own life.  Because of the seriousness of this we need to protect our children not only from being bullied but from being a part of bullying someone else.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

 
Privacy vs. Protection | Part 8

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 8

Jun 08

Social Networking and Your Teen’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.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

 
Privacy vs. Protection | Part 7

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 7

Jun 07

Your Child’s Privacy And 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 13/14 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 should be the people who are allowed to be their “friends” on their pages.  It also can be dangerous when kids treat it like a contest to see who has the most “friends” and will allow anyone to be their friend on these sites.

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.

Listen to today’s podcast for more insight on this topic.

 
Privacy vs. Protection | Part 6

Privacy vs. Protection | Part 6

Jun 06

Protection Always Comes Before Your Child’s Privacy

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.