Letter to Parents (from Sept 2012):
As a new school year begins we often stop and reflect on
goals, new classrooms and friends. One positive, emerging aspect of education
is the readiness of Internet-based learning. Many of your children have grown
up with technology- that is all they know. It is their norm- affecting them in
daily interactions and for many, will shape their futures. What is critical in
parenting children of the Internet generation is 'early intervention and
awareness'. Just as we teach our children how to cross a street, tie their
shoes, and say 'please/thank you', we need to extend these life tools to our
children, via their first Internet-based devices (iPods, game consoles, PCs').
Ultimately, your Internet role modeling loudly mirrors how your children will
cope, adapt and learn about the technology. Please take the time and 'LISTEN'
to your children- they will teach you a lot about their virtual worlds.
Here are some tips that will help you build a safe and
caring Internet experiences for your family (please discuss as a family and
tape it to the fridge at home for easy reflection):
1. Set clear rules (3 to 5) about the Internet for your
child’s safety and best interest. Work together to create realistic options
that work for the entire family. Children SHOULD NOT have 24/7 access to the
internet (e.g. Smart Phones texting messages from 1am-6am).
2. Keep the computer, laptop, and devices in a common area
of the house (kitchen). Make yourself available when your children are online,
until they are old enough to use the Internet unsupervised.
3. Do not threaten to take away the use of the Internet
completely. Set reasonable consequences when/if your child breaks the rules.
Kids can easily find ways to get online (a friend's house).
4. 'LISTEN DON'T LECTURE.' Promote open communication about
your child’s online activities. Show your children you are willing to listen,
even if you do not have all the answers.
5. Encourage and welcome your child to come to you if they
surf to an inappropriate site (pornographic, violent). DO NOT overreact with
anger: teach him/her to find a solution.
6. Be 'tech-savvy' and stay informed with the changing
technology your children use. Make use of Internet safety resources like: a)
Media Smarts Canada b) Netsmartz Parents c) Common Sense Media for Parents
7. Be a leader and aware of what 'you' are posting online.
Model the behaviour that you want your child to do online.
8. Know your children’s online friends. It is important to
know who your children are speaking to online and ensure that they never meet
anyone in-person without you going with them.
9. Teach what you know. The Internet is only a new medium
for traditional parenting lessons. Bullies, strangers and harsh content online
exist just like in the real world.
10. Children should only post personal information with a
parent/guardian's permission: THINK CAREFULLY before posting any pictures,
names, addresses, etc. because once you push 'SEND', it's in cyberspace
PS. Post your family rules on your fridge, too! Everyone
always hangs out there!
[Sources: SD 68 Safe
Schools' TnT Youth Survey (May 2012), United Way York Region, Ontario, Kiwi
Seminars, Netsmartz.org, and Common Sense.org - 2012]
further additional resources which may be of interest:
Media Smarts Canada - Resources for Parents –
(Canadian stats and info)
(multi-age safety tips)
Cyberbullying.us – Up to date articles on
Sexting, Facebook, Smart Phone Use
Connect Safely.org – A Parents’ Guide to
Netsmartz.org – An Extensive Resource for Parents
ConnectED – Questions Elementary Parents Should Ask:
Parents Want 2 Learn.ca – Multi-Source Resources
Guide for all age groups