Posted on September 4, 2015 by Cynthia Lieberman
At Cyberwise, we’re being introduced to an increasing number of apps and programs that allow parents to track the whereabouts and digital footprints of their children without a child’s knowledge.
We believe that this approach to keeping kids safe can break down trust. Instead, parents should start with face-to-face open communication; letting children know their safety is the top priority. This doesn’t mean it isn’t “cyberwise” to use a monitoring tool to enhance your efforts. There are often outside factors that contribute to a legitimate need for filtering and monitoring controls, and there are some great applications that can be used both in school and at home.
An app that caught our attention is Pocket Guardian, which sends notifications to a parent or guardian whenever suspicious behaviors such as sexting or cyberbullying have been sent/received from a child’s phone. Pocket Guardian encourages open family discussions and is designed help parents guard their kids from falling prey to the perilous pitfalls that inexperienced, unsuspecting children can face.
Another useful program to recommend for the home is KidsEmail, which allows kids to use email safely among family and friends. Their downloadable Internet Safety Contract is a great tool to help families talk over the rules and consequences of online behavior.
No matter how you slice it, learning how to be “cyberwise” takes time, a commodity that there never seems to be enough of. To make it easier to get a quick education on a wide range of topics—from Online Security and Privacy to Cyberbullying, Snapchat, Digital Citizenship and more—you might want to check out our free Tech Learning Hubs. Every Hub is packed with information (videos, ebooks, news, tips, research and other great resources) that will get you up to speed in no time.
Shouldering the responsibility of cyber safety should not solely rest on just parents or educators. We should all be facilitating an atmosphere that enables and empowers kids to become each other’s “cyber-shadow” through lessons in social media. This is exactly what we advocate for at CyberWise, as exemplified by Cyber Civics classes created by founder Diana Graber, that take “a preemptive and proactive approach to potential incidences of cyberbullying or other negative and/or unsafe online behaviors” for middle school students.
Kids won’t always tell us openly when they are in trouble, and it’s tough to always keep up with them. That’s why helping kids understand why being safe and respectful online is such an indispensable skill for them to learn in today’s networked world.
As Cyber Civics founder Diana Graber says, the best Internet blocks or filters are often the ones “kids carry around between their ears.” Why not work together and teach them how to use it?
Cynthia Lieberman is co-founder of CyberWise, the go-to-to source for busy adults who want to learn how to embrace digital media fearlessly. Cynthia has an M.A. in Media Psychology and Social Change and also consults for a diverse range of companies in marketing, social media and professional online profiling.