Speaking Point: Is it ok to let my child use a computer unsupervised? - Yes, but only if you have set up a few things up beforehand. 1. Have the computer in a public place. This should deter your child from accessing inappropriate material or engaging in bullying behavior. 2. Have set hours that your child can use the computer. Let your child know that using a computer is a privilege. It’s okay to use the computer to email family, play games and complete your homework. But it’s not okay to play games online for hours at a time. 3. Do your research and install a filter on your computer that will prevent your child from accessing inappropriate web sites.
Speaking Point: Should I allow my teen to have a Facebook account? - Facebook's policy is that no one under 13 is allowed to have an account. So, if your child is under 13, they should not have a Facebook account. However, I believe that if your child is under 18, it is the parent’s responsibility to monitor their child’s Facebook account and know its contents. Parents should not let inappropriate material on their child’s Facebook account or them to have friends that neither of them know personally. If the parent does not have the time to monitor the account, then the child should not have a Facebook account - period. I suggest that each family have a computer contract that details how and when the child should use the computer safely, with rewards for good use and punishments for misuse.
Speaking Point: My teen has a Facebook account. Now what? - Your teen should have the least information possible on their profile. All Facebook needs for an active account is an email in the information section. Teens should not be entering phone numbers, their school, state, relationship status, jobs and other private information into Facebook. Putting all that information about yourself plus photos online is very dangerous. Someone could potentially create fake ids or accounts with the information in your Facebook account (we have seen this happen before). So, less is more. Also, your teen should not be friending or corresponding with people they don’t not know who have contacted them through Facebook. This is very dangerous.
Speaking Point: My teen’s Facebook account is private and only “friends” people we know. That’s safe, right? - There is no difference if you have a public or private profile. Anything you do online can be seen whether you have a public or private account. The online image we create for ourselves will follow us for the rest of their lives. Before a college accepts a student, grants them a scholarship, or an employer offers a person on job, they check their social media accounts. So, if a teen has pictures of her partying, drinking, or half-dressed, that may hamper her from getting into the college she wants to go to. It's like getting fired from a job before you even get hired. Being careless about what you post online can definitely hurt your future.
Speaking Point: My online friends are the best! - Another problem I see happening a lot is friends posting unflattering, racy or questionable pics of others online. So, a girl's boyfriend could post photos of her in a bikini or in other stages of dress without her knowledge. So even if you don’t post racy pics of yourself online, your friends might post those pics of you. This can lead to serious problems.
Speaking Point: My child is a victim on cyber-bullying. How can I stop it? - There is on one-size fits all to stopping cyber bullying but here are some things a parent can do to reverse the situation.
Speaking Point: - Step #1: As a parent, be aware and supportive of your child. Talk to them, hear them out and try to understand their plight. Also, look out for unusual or erratic behavior. It may be easy for you to tell your child to just ignore what is being said online but your child may not be able to do that. We have all heard of cases in the news where bullied children took their own lives. We don’t want to lose another child because of that. So love, support and help your child through this situation.
Speaking Point: - Step #2: Check the school’s policy on off-campus or online behavior. Schools can get into legal trouble for disciplining students for what they did online or while they were not in school. Check if the school has an honor code or student code of conduct. If the school’s policy states that students can be disciplined for what they do off-campus or online if affects them or others in school, then it becomes a contractual issue. If your child has a policy like this in place, go to the school and see if the cyber-bully can be disciplined.
Speaking Point: - Step #3: If the cyber-bully has made threats to your child, posted personal information or done anything else illegal, then go immediately to your local police station. Make sure you have print copies of posts, pictures, emails, tweets, texts, etc. that were sent to your child from the cyber-bully.
Speaking Point: My child is a cyber-bully. How do I stop it? - Your child may not realize they are being a cyber-bully. They may be just doing what their friends are doing. But if it is brought to your attention by another parent or school that your child is involved in this behavior online, confront your child. Let them know that it is not okay. Talk to them about their actions and how it negatively affects others and their own lives. Then punish the child as you deem fit. I suggest having a Family Computer Contract in place that outlines how your child should use the computer. So, if your child has gone against the contract, you can refer to the agreement you have with your child and punish as needed.