Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) is an organization that my children have loved during the school year. The activities are well-planned and the after school tutoring helped improve their academics. Each my children had their favorite staff member that they looked forward to seeing the following year. It is a club they actively participated and shared with others.
June is Internet Safety Month and our favorite club, BGCA, has launched Cyber Safe Futures, a campaign designed to raise awareness among parents and guardians on the issue of cyber safety. Touching on key areas such as cyberbullying, online privacy, social networking, and mobile smarts, this initiative encourages parents to have open conversations with their children about important online safety precautions.
I love this campaign. I remember being a leader for Tiger Cubs years ago and working with them on cyber safety. We did a mock “chat” with another “undercover” leader. The parents, and I, were shocked at just how much information a child is willing to share online with strangers. In our demonstration, Tiger Cub after Tiger Cub divulged their address, gave a description of their home, their parent’s name, whether they had a dog and more!
Since then, I’ve set parameters with my children for online safety. They must always ask to get online. I, or another adult, must be present. We disable chat and never allow the use of real names.
The BGCA CyberSafeFutures.org website offers a plethora of educational resources, trends and tools for Moms and Dads to learn how to keep their kids safe online. With over five million Facebook users being under the age of ten, BGCA helps parents feel in control of their children’s online and mobile safety activities.
A few years ago, I participated in an online group community. I was the victim of a cyber bully. As an adult, it was alarming. My cyber bully also bullied other members. Posts were flagged, points taken and in the end I left the online community. It didn’t stop. I had a sponsor reach out to me when my cyberbully took to Twitter. Thankfully I had witnesses and sadly, other victims, willing to share that *I* was not the bully. That experience made me look at how children become victims; how difficult it is to leave behind. No matter how big of a world we think the world wide web is, it grows smaller with cyber bullies.
Did you know: One in three parents believe their teens to be much more tech-savvy than they are. Do you feel this is the case with your children? Boys and Girls Club of America has created a brief quiz to test your cyber smartsplease take the Cyber Survivor Challenge Quiz. If you share your Cyber Survivor results on your social platforms, you’ll be entered to win prizes such as an iPad mini for you and a $500 VISA gift card to the Club of your choice and Cyber Survivor t-shirts.
Tips for Parents on Cyberbullying
- Talk with your child about cyberbullying. Use a story in the news as a conversation starter. Ask him whether he knows someone who’s been cyberbullied.
- Tell your child to talk to an adult she trusts if something she sees online makes her uncomfortable, scared or angry. Prepare ahead of time what you’ll say and do if your child comes to you with an online problem. Kids are afraid that if they mention a problem, their Internet privileges will be taken away. But you want your child to talk to you about these issues. By preparing ahead of time, you won’t overreact.
- Talk with your child about being respectful online. Not only do you want to help your child if he is being bullied, you also want to make sure he isn’t bullying others. Model good online behaviors for your child and remind him not to say anything online that he wouldn’t say to someone in person.
- Watch for signs your child might be being cyberbullied. Has her attitude toward technology changed? Did she once enjoy being online and now doesn’t? Has her attitude toward school changed? Have her grades dropped? Has her behavior toward her friends changed?
- Talk with other parents about cyberbullying. Work with your school to develop a safe, positive environment for all young people in the school and neighborhood.
Take a moment to visit the BGCA CyberSafeFutures.org website and find the facts. Then open the conversation to help keep our children safe online.