Getting “online” has become second nature to kids these days, but just because they’re growing up familiar with the Internet does not necessarily mean they have learned safe online usage. For all the benefits that the Internet provides, there are just as many dangers lurking…
We’ve all heard the term “street smarts” – the shrewd ability to survive in a dangerous urban environment. Have you ever thought that this could apply to the Internet? NetSmartz was developed by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and Boys & Girls Clubs of America to teach kids how to be safer when using the Internet. NSTeens specifically focuses on teens and tweens – helping educate, engage, and empower them as Internet users. The website uses bios, comics, and videos to convey to kids not only the dangers of meeting strangers offline, but also discusses cyberbullying, and the consequences of what you post on your social networking profiles. The same exact site is even available in Spanish, which I’m so impressed by. I’ve forwarded it to all my young cousins in Mexico!
Fortunately this program is currently being implemented in public school systems in several states as well as Europe, but that’s just it – it’s not taught everywhere. Just like sex ed, it’s important to reinforce and discuss the topic at home anyway. I don’t see anything wrong with parents getting their own Facebook and MySpace profiles so they can see what their kids are up to. It’s all about transparency and trust, not invading your child’s privacy. It’s important for kids to know that they can trust their parents, or another responsible adult, if they are confronted with anything that doesn’t feel right. They should feel comfortable asking their parents about what information is safe to share. Sometimes it takes a second person to look at their page and say, “Hey, maybe that’s too much information,” for them to fully understand.
My 4-year old has computer time everyday, and already her daddy and I have put thought into how she uses it. It’s located in the family room, where we spend most our time, and she’s never on the computer unsupervised. To deter her from clicking on unknown links, I put all the sites she visits frequently as bookmarks on the toolbar. I’ll definitely continue to visit NetSmartz and NSTeens in the future, because as technology develops, new perils arise, and I want to be prepared!
Thank you to Mom Central for sharing this great resource with me. Now it’s your turn to pass it on to your friends that have kids. They’ll thank you!