wondering if the benefits outweigh the risks. I understand this feeling. I have spent
a decade evaluating this situation looking at issues of privacy, cyber-bullying, and
predators. I have worked with children, teens, and adults who have been harassed online,
had their identities stolen, been stalked, and even developed relationships with registered
sex offenders. But I have also seen social networks act as the catalyst to revolutions,
open access to information guide decisions, and online communication bring families
closer together regardless of physical distance. For all of these reasons, plus knowing
the pitfalls can be avoiding, I will continue to advocate for the safe, responsible, and
ethical use of technology rather than restriction.
So how, if we as parents feel ill-equipped, do we want our children to learn about the vast
world? Today, in all communities, schools are struggling with this dilemma, what should
they teach and what do they leave to the parents? How much access is necessary to the
online world for education versus what limitations need to be put in place so parents feel as
though the schools are not opening the door to inappropriate content and communication?
I believe a partnership must exist! If we leave all of the education to the schools, then
how are the lessons reinforced at home? And if we enforce certain restrictions at home,
how do we know the schools respect our boundaries? It is time for parents to get
involved in the education process when it comes to online use. Here are a few questions
you might want to ask:
1. Filters: Do you filter content at school? If so, what filters should we be using at
home that are age appropriate.
NOTE: filters do not guarantee your child’s safety, nor do they block content
that YOU may deem inappropriate. They are a great way of setting expectations
and do their best to filter out pornographic, violent, and gambling sites. Also,
remember that most mobile and gaming devices are not filtered as well as public
2. Monitoring: Does the school monitor my child’s accounts or should they be
monitored at home?
3. What type of digital citizenship program is currently in place? Does the school
discuss issues related to privacy, cyber-bullying and predators? How does the
school recommend parents discuss these issues at home?
4. What is the school’s policy about bringing laptops or mobile devices on campus
for school and/or personal use?
5. What is the school’s policy if they believe a student is being bullied online even if
the behavior takes places off campus?
6. What is personal information?
Understanding these six issues will help you make better decisions about when and
how to give your children access to technology.